Addressing the National Economic Dialogue at Dublin Castle, IFA president Joe Healy said Budget 2019 must recognise that rural Ireland is trailing behind in terms of the economic recovery and provide additional support to farming, particularly the low-income sectors.
“While the economic recovery is in full swing in Dublin and other cities, it has yet to have a significant impact in rural Ireland. The focus must be on supporting the rural economy.”
Mr Healy said Ireland’s agri-food sector is facing a number of huge challenges with the unprecedented threat of Brexit, a very damaging proposal on the CAP Budget and the impending Mercosur trade deal.
“While budgetary issues at home are the focus of today’s discussion, the very future of Irish agriculture is at stake. The Irish Government needs to take the strongest possible stance on the CAP Budget and damaging trade deals, and continue to hold the line on Brexit,” he said.
“It is clear that certain sectors, particularly our suckler cow sector, are under huge income pressure. The Government needs to act in the next Budget to address this. During the economic recovery, many farm schemes were cut. While there has been some restoration, this must continue in the next Budget.”
The IFA President reminded the Government of the commitment in the Programme for Government to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,650 for the self-employed, to match the PAYE credit.
The Earned Income Tax Credit must be increased from its 2018 level of €1,150 to €1,650 in budget 2019, he said, as well as the immediate roll-out of the low-cost loan scheme announced in the last Budget.
“On climate, farmers are playing their part, but all sectors of society need to look at what more we can do. IFA is clear that the way to make progress in this area is through an incentive-based approach rather an approach based on taxation or penalties” he said.
“There is huge potential in the area of renewable energy. With the right policies, we could see a ‘win-win’ in this area by achieving environmental improvements while providing new opportunities for farmers.” iris