Budget reaction: more needs to be done, says IFA president Joe Healy

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IFA president calls for aid package for Donegal farmers after viewing devastation

IFA president Joe Healy.

In what has been a very challenging year for farmers, IFA president Joe Healy said the Budget was some acknowledgment of the income difficulties in agriculture, but the upcoming major issues of Brexit and CAP will require much more Government commitment and support for farming.

Mr Healy said the funding of €20m through a pilot scheme for suckler farmers was a recognition of the income crisis in the sector, but the level of funding was disappointing and more needed to be done to help sustain the suckler herd. He said it is essential the new measures are farmer friendly.

The increased ANC funding of €22.7m, to bring the allocation to €250m, was positive and reverses the cuts imposed on the lowest income farmers in previous budgets. He said IFA will continue its campaign for increased funding of €300m as it is vital for low-income farmers on marginal land.

The IFA leader said that the €200 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,350 does not go far enough.

“The Government continues to discriminate between employees and the self-employed in the income tax system. It is simply not right that a farmer earning €16,500 will be paying €300 a year more in income tax than a PAYE employee next year. The Government has reneged on a clear commitment in the Programme for Government that they would reach parity, of €1,650, by 2018," he said.

The Brexit loan scheme appears to be the same scheme announced in last year’s Budget.

“We are sceptical about the merits of the new scheme as it is not available for working capital. Because the scheme is open to SMEs, it is questionable how much of it farmers will benefit from,” he said

The IFA president welcomed the extension on income averaging to include farm families with an alternative self-employed income as it is a help to deal with volatility.

Joe Healy also welcomed the extra €2m for the Walks Scheme.

“The medium-term outlook for agriculture is very uncertain given policy and trade issues. The Budget has not adequately recognised this and farmers will need more support to deal with these uncertainties," said Mr Healy.