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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘It represents a cow cull’ – Rural TDs angered by lack of funding for suckler farmers

According to the Rural Independent Group of TDs, Budget 2023 has failed to “give farmers a break” from crippling input costs.

The group has strongly criticised Budget 2023 for its “abject failure to support hard-pressed farmers, who are being hammered by crippling input costs”.

Its leader, deputy Mattie McGrath, stated that, all in all, this budget has failed to protect the incomes of Irish farmers.

Moreover, he said it has failed to provide the “necessary” shield against the increasing input costs that our farm families need and deserve.

He said, unfortunately, the rollover of the fodder and tillage schemes in the budget, while welcome, are “completely” insufficient to mitigate “rocketing” farm input costs, which, he added, are now at least 40% higher than a year ago.

The deputy said that many farmers cannot sustain increased feed, fertiliser, energy and other costs.

Suckler cow supports and ACRES

He commented: “Failure by the government to allocate once-off measures for farmers to mitigate this dire situation will result in many farmers, particularly low-income beef and sheep enterprises, pressed to the brink with some forced out of business.”

“The renewal of the poorly funded Beef Environment and Efficiency Scheme for sucklers farmers provides no enhanced funding.”

“This is perhaps the clearest indication yet, that the government has no intention of supporting the 80,000 farmers engaged in suckler production (1 million suckler herd population). In reality, it represents a cow cull by stealth or through the back door.”

In addition, he said allocations for the new ACRES environment scheme are simply “not sufficient” to provide places for every farmer who is currently participating in an environmental scheme.

He warned that many farmers will be excluded or locked out of the scheme.

Concrete levy

Furthermore, he said a 10% concrete levy would have a “deep and profound” impact on farmers.

He foresees that the levy will undermine farm investment and increase the costs of concrete and blocks even further.

For instance, he explained, this levy will impact farmers’ ability to build a slatted tank, slurry or silage storage, grain storage facilities, animal storage units, or any necessary building works on farms.

Carbon tax

He described the government’s plan to “plough ahead” with hiking the carbon tax to €48.50/t in the budget as “a crippling blow to farmers”.

“While government politicians spin this tax measure as an incentive for people to reduce carbon emissions, they fail to recognise that most people, including farmers, simply have no credible alternative to their current machinery, car or heating system.”

“The carbon tax is a penalty charge on people going about their daily business. It is blunt and ineffective.”

“This budgetary hike alone, will increase the price of a tank of motor fuel by €1.50, a 900-litre tank of home heating oil by almost €20 and a bag of coal by almost €1,” he concluded.

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