Budget 2023 is a missed opportunity says INHFA

The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) has welcomed the retention of the five tax reliefs which they maintain are essential at encouraging young farmers into the industry and the commitment to increase spending in Agriculture by €283m in 2023 but outlined the need for further clarity on this.

National President Vincent Roddy also welcomed the additional support for the suckler sector through a BEEP type scheme with a budget of €28m. However, the proposed spend of €28m is, he stated, “disappointing and while we sought a budget of €85m we had hoped that the €52m/year committed under the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme could at least be matched here.”

Roddy also expressed disappointment for the lack of support and recognition for farmers operating on designated lands. Farmers with lands designated Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protected Areas have he stated “seen their income potential restricted and endured additional costs through the 38 Activities Requiring Consent applying to these lands,”.

In our budget proposals we had he added “sought a direct payment of €240/ha for those impacted by the burden imposed through these designations”

With ongoing discussion around the need to protect and enhance biodiversity it is, he maintained “vital that the Just Transition our Government promises is applied to these lands, and those impacted by these designations. Unfortunately, this budget is a missed opportunity to send a message to farmers on these lands. and all farmers concerned around expectations relating to climate change and biodiversity loss. A message that clearly states how the Government has your back and will support you through a just transition.”

In relation to the new Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) and budget proposals to provide funding for 30,000 farmers to join the scheme in 2023. The INHFA Leader expressed concern that “unless the closing date is extended out to March there won’t be 30,000 farmers joining as the advisory capacity isn’t there to complete the applications within the current timescales.”

Beyond this he stressed the need “to re-evaluate the scheme and the budgets around it to ensure access for all farmers that are willing to make a commitment to enhancing biodiversity and the environment.”

With regard to the sheep sector Roddy stressed the need for additional direct support beyond the €12/ewe promised under the new CAP and the need for additional funding to support the progress made in developing an Irish woollen industry. “While these have not been indicated in the budget proposals we look forward to getting clarity on them” he added.Concluding, the Farm Leader expressed dismay at the 10% concrete levy which he maintained “will only increase building cost at a time when we should do everything to avoid these increases.”