Beef: € 74 Million
A total package of €74 million is being provided for the beef sector in 2015. Last year’s budget introduced a new Beef Genomics Scheme and this is now being further developed and enhanced to deliver a payment per animal of €100 for the first ten animals, with the remaining animals being eligible for an €80 payment per animal in participating herds, once approved as part of the new RDP. This will cost some €52 million in 2015.
An additional sum of €9 million is available to fund the Beef Data Programme and a further €6 million has been allocated in 2015 to assist farmer participation in the Beef Quality Assurance Scheme. In addition eligible farmers may also participate in the Beef Efficiency Programme for which some €1 million is provided. A further €1 million has been allocated to An Bord Bia in support of its marketing of Irish products abroad, beef in particular.
ICBF is being allocated €1.6 million towards its cattle improvement programme. Continuing support for investments in marketing and processing is provided within the €4million available for this purpose in 2015.
Farm Safety Scheme: € 12 Million
Funding of €12 million is allocated to a new once-off Farm Safety Scheme. The scheme, subject to EU approval, will shortly be open for applications, with a grant rate of 40% up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €20,000. The Minister was particularly anxious to acknowledge the very high level of risk on farms and this targeted scheme is aimed at providing a once-off opportunity to farmers to upgrade safety arrangements on their farms.
Agri-Environment: € 150 Million
A total fund of €150 million has been allocated in 2015 to agri-environment schemes with funding dominated by REPS and AEOS, together amounting to some €122 million. The key budget provision for 2015 is the allocation to GLAS (Green Low Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme), which is designed to build on the success of REPS and AEOS to encourage farmers to farm in an environmentally friendly manner. GLAS will be a five year scheme with a maximum payment of €5,000 per annum, with the potential to qualify for a top-up payment of up to €2000. The scheme will eventually facilitate the entry of 50,000 farmers. Funding in 2015 provides for the opening of the scheme to some 30,000 entrants. This scheme, when fully open, will require funding of €150 million and will represent a significant scaling up in funding in 2016 (with 50,000 farmers this will be up to € 250 million).
Milk: € 20 Million
There will be a particular focus on milk in 2015 with the ending of the milk quota regime. It is clear that farmers are already gearing up for expansion. Investment in on-farm facilities will be a key part of leveraging the growth potential of the Irish dairy industry. In the capital programme the Minister has doubled the allocation in support of the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) from €17 million to €34 million, for which dairy expansion will be the most substantial area for investment.
Marine: € 76 Million
Included in the funding of the Marine sector is the sum of €11.5 million devoted to the new seafood development programme 2015, while a further €11.5 million of capital funding will be invested in fishery harbour capital works, which not only adds value and improvement to these harbours but also contributes heavily to the local economies of the areas concerned. Some €6.3 million is allocated to investments in aquaculture and fish processing projects, while close to €47million is allocated to fund the marketing and development functions of BIM, the research role of the Marine Institute and the regulatory and control functions of the Seafood Protection Authority.
Horse and Greyhound Fund: € 68 Million
The Minister has allocated at least €68 million to the Horse and Greyhound Fund, an increase of €14 million in 2015, in recognition of the significant shortfall in funding going into the horse and greyhound sectors in recent years as a result of the downturn in the economy. With the introduction of the online betting tax, the Government will be providing an additional €6 million a year to the Horse and Greyhound Fund. As a result Horse Racing Ireland will be better positioned to make a significant contribution to racecourse reinvestment in 2015, with an initial allocation of €11.2 million. The remaining €2.8 million will be allocated to Bord Na gCon to support its activities.
Sport Horse: € 0.6 Million
As part of the new ten year development plan for the sport horse sector the Minister is providing €600,000 in support of the promotion and marketing activities of Horse Sport Ireland.
Sheep: € 19 Million
In continuing support of the sheep sector €4 million has been allocated to the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme, while TAMS will provide further support towards assisting investments in sheep handling facilities. In addition, the sheep grassland scheme amounting to €15 million will be incorporated into individual farmer single payment entitlements in 2015.
Horticulture: € 7.2 Million
A provision of some €4.2 million has been provided to fund capital investments in the Horticulture sector as well as €3 million funding toward the Food and Horticulture Promotion Fund.
Forestry: € 110 Million
The Forestry sector receives the largest share of the public capital programme expenditure of the Department and the Minister has again provided some €110 million for this purpose in 2015. This level of funding will allow for an afforestation programme of 7,000 hectares in 2015 and some 120 kilometres of forest roads.
Animal Welfare: € 5 Million
Following the animal welfare conference earlier this year the Minister met with representatives of the traveller community and, as a result has allocated an extra €1million to support the development of new facilities to provide shelter for the urban horse population and to encourage young people in the care and welfare of horses. This fund will target establishing shelters, in association with Local Authorities, in a number of locations in 2015. Further allocations will be provided for new centres in future years. This funding is additional to the €1.8 million being allocated to the control of horses scheme and the €2.1 million allocated to support voluntary organisations in their animal welfare work
CEDRA Report: € 1 Million
An allocation of €1 million has been made towards the establishment of a Rural Innovation and Development Fund to support innovative and small scale pilot initiatives under the CEDRA report.
Pigs and Poultry:
Funding towards investments in upgrading existing buildings will be provided in the new TAMS scheme.
The Minister together with the Minister for Finance published the Agri-taxation review which was announced in last year’s budget. This Review was timely and has provided a unique opportunity to examine a critical element of Government support to the agriculture sector in the context of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy and the major opportunity presented by the abolition of dairy quotas next year.
The key taxation measures in this budget are aimed at increasing land mobility through increasing the income thresholds for relief from leasing income by 50% and through the introduction of a fourth threshold for lease periods of 15 or more years. In addition, the lower age threshold of 40 years of age for eligibility has been removed.
Assisting succession and the transfer of farms has been a central part of the Government’s agri-taxation policy and Budget 2015 includes a number of measures to maintain and strengthen that support, specifically the retention of Agricultural Relief from Capital Acquisitions Tax, Retirement Relief from Capital Gains Tax, the current stamp duty exemptions on transfers of land and other new measures including a targeting of Agricultural Relief from Capital Acquisitions Tax to qualified or full-time farmers or to those who lease land out on a long-term basis, extension of the eligible letting period under the retirement relief of a qualifying asset to 25 years.
Other tax concessions agreed as part of the budget include enhancing the Income Averaging measure by increasing the period from 3 to 5 years and allowing averaging to be availed of where a farmer and/or their spouse receive income from an on-farm diversification trade or profession. In all, there are 12 new measures introduced in Budget 2015 and full details are attached.