Speaking today following the publication of Budget 2019 John Donoghue, CEO, said; “Budget 2019 is in many ways a missed opportunity for the Irish farming sector. While there are some measures announced today that are welcome such as the extension of income averaging, overall there is a strong sense in the sector of an opportunity missed. 2018 was an enormously challenging year for farmers. With the combination of severe weather conditions, the fodder crisis, price and income volatility, spiralling costs and a major cash-flow squeeze across the board, farmers have had a very difficult year. There had been some optimism that a significant package of supports would be announced in the budget today to help the sector face into 2019, a year many anticipate will be one of the most challenging yet with Brexit and CAP reform on the horizon. No such package was delivered and farmers are understandably concerned about the future.”
“At ifac we have been providing financial advice to farming families for over 40 years. We know exactly how difficult 2018 has been for them because we are working with farmers every day, providing sound advice and guiding financial decision making. For the sake of the many farm families who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in the current climate, we hope some additional pro farm measures will be included in the Finance Bill later this month. With an estimated 1 in every 7 jobs outside of Dublin supported by the farming sector this is a part of the economy that now more than ever deserves special attention and should be robustly supported to ensure that it remains resilient in the face of significant economic uncertainty.”
Ifac has identified the following shortcomings in Budget 2019:
1. The low interest loan scheme announced for farmers will only apply to capital projects and cannot be used for working capital and yet it is in the area of working capital where farmers need the most help having just endured one of the most challenging year’s on record.
2. No de-stocking tax relief measure announced to help farmers who were hoping for some targeted support to help them face into another winter of feed shortages and rising costs.
3. The much anticipated PRSI measures to help address the chronic labour shortage in the farming sector failed to materialise and so farmers will again struggle this year to attract labour into the sector.
Ifac’s Head of Business Development, Noreen Lacey, spoke to RTE’s Countrywide following the Budget to discuss the changes for farming and food finances with Damien O’Reilly.