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Opinion: Government appears intent on detaching itself from ag

President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, shares his views on Budget 2022.

Farmers would look in vain to Budget 2022 for any signal that the government understood the scale of the challenge it is putting before the state’s farm families.

Yet again, there was a gross mismatch between the ambitions that ministers had repeatedly proclaimed for the farming and agri-food sector – both in terms of economic impetus and climate change measures – and the funds and changes that they were prepared to allocate to that challenge.

We keep hearing that we are a critical sector in terms of emissions lowering. We keep saying that we can and will get on board with the project so long as rural Ireland’s economic sustainability is given the same consideration as environmental sustainability.

Everybody keeps agreeing with that – certainly, the government do – but only until it comes time to actually do something meaningful and invest towards that end.

Then, suddenly, it all goes quiet. That is what happens every year, and that is what happened today.

Today’s budget introduced accelerated capital allowances for gas vehicles. ICMSA has called for accelerated capital allowances for lower emissions farm equipment like slurry spreaders for at least five years.

It would have cost practically nothing to do that, relatively speaking. But yet again, a budget has come and gone. It did not introduce a measure that would have cost practically nothing while having a real impact on lowering emissions.

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ICMSA on Budget 2022: Farm incomes

Today’s CSO announcement laid bare the real picture on farm incomes.

Input surges – prices of fertiliser, fuel and energy – have wiped out whatever benefit farmers have enjoyed from the last 18 months of income stability and reasonable prices.

That has gone completely unaddressed. The government appears intent on detaching itself from the agri sector. They are making a huge mistake in so doing.

Budget 2022 demonstrates categorically that complacency and flawed analysis.

This was a huge chance for the government to show they understand the positive role that farming and agri-food can and wants to play as we go forward.

Instead, they have come up with a budget that falls short of both the challenge and the opportunity.

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