THE PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is calling for vital farm schemes to be protected from cuts and a tougher Government stance on public sector pay and allowances.
In Ireland’s Agriculture: A Key Part of our Economic Recovery, the ICSA outlines the role in agri-business in reversing the economic downturn and highlights a number of key points necessary for progress – both nationally and within the farming sector.
The Association says that, in the absence of the ability to provide fiscal stimulus, the Government must instead aim to “do no harm” to the industry.
“Support schemes which constitute an essential part of family farm incomes must not be targeted for further cuts,” said ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin. “For example, the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS), which is vital for many livestock farmers, has taken a cut of more than 25 per cent over recent Budgets; while 62,000 farmers are gradually being taken out of REPS before it closes down completely in 2014, to be replaced by an agri-environment scheme (AEOS) that is far more restricted in scope and funding.”
Gilmartin said the Government’s stated policy of applying expenditure cuts in favour of tax increases was being “sharply curbed” by the contents of the Croke Park Agreement. The focus on reducing staff numbers rather than pay is hindering any real progress, according to Gilmartin, who added that the failure to target increments or allowances means a “disproportionately high number of cuts are made to vital schemes, front-line services and capital investment.”
“The Government needs to apply some fairness in the treatment of the public and private sectors and tackle increments and allowances head-on,” he said.
Key points from the ICSA’s Submission:
- Vital support schemes must be protected
- Croke Park Agreement: Government needs to tackle allowances and increments to address imbalance between public and private sectors
- Pensions must be protected: scrap the pension levy and allow USC & PRSI in tax relief calculations
- Septic tank repairs should be 100 per cent grant-aided by Government
- Third level grant must continue to be assessed on income alone
Gilmartin also sounded a warning note on private pensions, competitiveness and the cost of doing business, and added:
“We are also calling on the Government to provide a 100 per cent grant to any household required to carry out upgrade work on their septic tanks. Rural dwellers must be treated equally with their urban counterparts and this is the only way that can be achieved.”