ICMSA describe Budget 2024 as ‘A Complete Non-Event’.
Following the presentation of Budget 2024 today, the President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the initial response of farmers would be one of confusion and disappointment at what he termed a ‘complete non-event’ to very serious problems in the sector that were not just there to be solved – but had in most cases been caused by the Government itself.
“There’s nothing here that shows the Government even understand the scale of problems – still less want to solve them. All we seem to have got is a rollover of existing reliefs with some minor technical adjustments”, said Mr. McCormack.
While noting that more announcements will be made later today, the ICMSA President said that the Government had ‘again’ completely failed to recognise both the income and regulatory pressures on sole trader farmers and he cited the fact that only €3 billion of the new Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund will be devoted to climate and nature measures between now and 2030. Mr. McCormack said that there was never any shortage of Government-appointed groups on the issue of climate change with whom farmers had to engage, there seemed to be a no willingness or commitment on the Government’s part to actually follow up that engagement with the funding to make things happen. This Budget – like so many of its immediate predecessors – was content to point at alleged agri-environmental problems while shying away from the kind of on-farm funding that would deal with them.
The prefect example of this, according to the ICMSA President, was the absolute vacuum around the consequences of the recent nitrates decision to reduce to 220kgs of N that will – beyond any dispute – wipe out many small and medium-sized dairy farmers. Mr. McCormack said the dilemma that the Government’s negligence of the matter had placed in excess of 3000 farm families was most serious and that neglect on the part of the State had been compounded by the ‘guilty silence’ around any useful funding for expanded slurry storage on dairy farms. Instead, we had been given some fanciful and missing-the-point tinkering towards providing grant aid for slurry storage to tillage farmers.
The ICMSA President said the Budget could be summarised as what the Americans called ‘a nothing burger’; “There is nothing in it; certainly nothing in it for Irish farmers except a few pro forma relief rollovers”, said Mr. McCormack.
Ends 10 October 2023
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