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Tom Murphy
Professional Agricultural
Contractors of Ireland

Unfair tax

It appears from the many calls to our office that contractors in certain parts of the country are being hit with commercial tax bills that are, in some cases, quite substantial.

Local authorities in the south of the country, but not exclusively, are seeking commercial-rate revenue associated with contractors’ workshops and sheds used to house their machinery. While local authorities are well within their rights to do this, it does hit some businesses harder than others, especially those agricultural contractors who do not farm. Why? Because Revenue does not recognise agricultural contractors as part of the agricultural sector but designates them part of the service industry. PAC Ireland has campaigned to have this changed, however the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and indeed successive ministers have constantly given us the deaf ear.
When agricultural contractors are also farmers, it is difficult for local authorities to assess how much contracting they do to apportion the correct amount of tax, so it becomes a grey area. Of course, it’s probable that local authorities would be wary of taking on the mighty farming lobby. The crux of the problem is that many agricultural contractors are full-time and do not farm as well. In these cases, their businesses can be hit with very high rates of tax.
This creates an unfair advantage for contractors who farm against those who don’t. Full-time contractors can be heavily taxed and must add this additional overhead to the prices they charge. It is important for all contractors to join PAC Ireland’s campaign to put an end to this unacceptable burden and lobby their TDs for the agricultural-contracting sector to be brought under the umbrella of the agriculture.

pat griffin

Farewell, Pat Griffin

At the last meeting of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (FSPAC), Pat Griffin, senior inspector, announced his retirement. I must say this came as a surprise to everyone. I have worked with Pat for too many years to remember and I’ve seen at close hand his dedication to reducing serious injuries and fatalities in the farming sector. A plain-speaking man, he was always ready to listen. He wanted all stakeholders to have an input into policies and actions when dealing with the health, safety and wellbeing of those working in agriculture. When Pat joined the HSA agricultural department, he got the backing of the board to reorganise how the HSA approached the serious situation in the farming sector, with its high figures of fatalities each year. He established the FSPAC, a statutory committee of the authority chaired by a board member. This meant that every HSA board meeting received a full report from the FSPAC.
Pat steered this new group to produce a four-year plan, which saw five working groups prepare a farm safety action plan with recommendations to reduce fatalities. There is no doubt that this initiative worked and the format he created will continue. Pat can retire with the satisfaction that he made a major contribution and many lives have been saved through his dedication to what must have been a very difficult job. Guímid scor fada agus sona duit, from all at PAC Ireland.

Stay safe

Finally, July and August are the months when fatalities and serious injuries can occur. I urge all those involved in agriculture to take great care. Time pressures, stress, fatigue and dehydration can lead to lapses of concentration. Cutting corners to save a few minutes could be the worst decision you ever make. Please stay safe.