ICMSA says Budget must position farming and agri-food for post-Covid recovery
Speaking in advance of next weeks’ Budget, the President of ICMSA said that while farmers realised the constraints that Budget 2021 would be delivered within, it was still obvious and urgent to introduce specific measures required to enable the farming and agri-food sectors to deal with the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19 and Brexit amongst others. Pat McCormack said that we had to have stability in the agri-food sector that would give us the platform from which to build a recovery right throughout the country.
On the question of Brexit, Mr. McCormack said that it was vital that everyone understood that even if we got the optimum deal of the type that we certainly required for post-Brexit trading, it will still be a step down on present arrangements and will impact on the sector most exposed to the new ‘downgraded’ arrangements: farming and agri-food. That, according to Mr McCormack, is simply beyond any doubt and it was therefore necessary tor the Government to plan support for this vital export sector in a way that best utilises and complements the EU Brexit fund. It would also be necessary to go directly to the family farm level that was the ‘backbone’ of our farming sector and support them through the introduction of a Farm Management Deposit Scheme concept that he said would address the wild fluctuations in income that were, Mr McCormack said, “battering” family farms and eliminating any prospect of them being able to plan their business on any kind of predictable year-to-year basis.
The ICMSA President pointed out that such a scheme would be absolutely cost-neutral over time and completely supervised by the Government: “it will give the farmers of Ireland some sense of security at a time when it was never more badly needed”.
In terms of other taxation measures, the Association says that the disparity between the Earned Income Credit allocated to PAYE workers and self-employed individuals should be finally closed while practical and uncomplicated measures that smooth the transfer of family farms to the next generation need to be retained and improved.
The ICMSA President said that the underpinning role that farm schemes play in overall farm income needs to be recognised and protected. He said that Pillar II schemes such as ANC, GLAS and TAMS need to be retained and fully funded for 2021 and the Minister also needs to make provision for a Dairy Calf-to-Beef Scheme that would improve the integration between the dairy and beef sectors, benefit both and strengthen the wider rural economy.
“We need better integration of these two sectors and the Government could signal and accelerate that process by introducing this scheme”, said Mr. McCormack.
Concluding, Mr. McCormack said, that no one under-estimated the challenge facing the Government in Budget 2021, but the exports provided by the Agri-food sector would be required if rural areas were to participate in the post-Covid recovery and he said that in farming and food production Ireland possessed specific natural and technical skills that made us world-leaders. This had to be protected, fostered and grown in a sustainable way.
Ends 9 October 2020
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office
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