Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)


6:55 pm

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I will be sharing my time with the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon. I am delighted to speak about the agriculture budget introduced by me, the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, and the Minister of State, Senator Hackett, who is abroad representing the Government at the moment.

In an overall sense, the Government has delivered an €11 billion budget to support our families, farmers, fishers, businesses and economy through a period of tremendous uncertainty. This is a budget for urban and rural areas and for all of Ireland. Budget 2023 is a critical one for our largest indigenous export sector, which is facing a period of uncertainty. Some €2.14 billion has been allocated to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for next year, an increase of €250 million or 13% on the budget in 2022. This sits alongside the incoming Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, which will deliver an additional €1.2 billion in national funding on top of the outgoing CAP. I have increased all funding streams to farmers to ensure the sector is protected and enabled to prosper.

Coming into budget 2023, my strategy was to take a long-term as well as a short-term approach to protecting our farm families' incomes. As I said, our great sector is facing a period of uncertainty and change. However, what is not in doubt is the need for our farmers, fishers and food producers to continue to produce world-class safe and sustainable food. Outside factors, particularly the illegal invasion of Ukraine, are eroding farm incomes. This has been a key priority of mine throughout 2022. Since February, I have introduced €90 million worth of extra supports for farm families and their businesses. We are still in the midst of farm input challenges and I am using this budget to address this. For 2023 we will have a second fodder support scheme which will pay farmers upwards of €1,000 per farm family. This is the front-loaded this year to assist farmers to make decisions on their businesses for next year. We will also have a new €10 million tillage incentive scheme as well as a new €28 million suckler beef support scheme which will sit alongside the €150 per cow new suckler carbon efficiency scheme. I will continue to stand foursquare behind our beef and suckler farmers.

There will be a new grant aid scheme to ease fertiliser price pressure, comprising an enhanced multispecies sward scheme, a red clover scheme and also for the first time an €8 million grant aid scheme to assist in the cost of spreading lime. Funding for organic farming has been increased by 80% to €37 million. Farmer access to the business energy support scheme has also been secured as well as the continuation of the reduction of excise duty on agricultural diesel to nil. These measures will support all farmers and will deliver real money to farm families at an important time.

Looking to the longer term, this budget lays the groundwork for strategic supports for the sector over the next five years through the new €10 billion Common Agricultural Policy, CAP, strategic plan. This CAP includes a 50% increase in Pillar 2 funding over the outgoing one.

I have secured up to €500 million in 2023 to support farmers in their efforts to tackle the challenges of climate, biodiversity and water quality. Notably, the measures include funding for 30,000 places in a new flagship agri-climate rural environment scheme. This is the largest ever agri-environment scheme run by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I am also introducing €8 million in a grant aid scheme to support the spreading of lime as well as advanced multispecies sward red clover scheme. This will help farmers with rising fertiliser prices and help them move towards a reduction in chemical fertiliser.

Critically, I also secured an increase in the targeted agriculture modernisation schemes, TAMS, to €90 million. This will help fund the proposed increase in the grant rate for TAMS to 60% and a stand-alone investment ceiling of €90,000 for solar installations. As an immediate step, farm dwellings are now eligible for inclusion for solar panel investments. I am confident that these will be very beneficial to farm families and their businesses and I expect significant farmer interest in this space.

With regard to taxation, I am delighted that we could agree a new accelerated capital allowance for slurry storage, which will help drive further improvements in slurry storage and management as well as water quality, coupled with improved nutrient use efficiency and reduced dependence on chemical fertilisers. Ultimately, this will help reduce emissions and is a measure of the Government's commitment to supporting farmers and improving environmental sustainability.

I am a firm supporter of generation renewal and facilitating the transfer of land to the next generation when it is appropriate to do so. We agreed the renewal with the Minister for Finance of vital tax reliefs including stamp duty relief for young, trained farmers for stock relief, the renewal of capital gains tax for farm restructuring and stamp duty relief for farm consolidation.

I am also delighted to announce that farmers will have access to the temporary business energy support scheme, which will provide important support to farmers and food businesses. It is a significant measure which will be a direct and rapid practical support to farmers and food businesses at a time of escalating costs.

The marine and seafood sector has faced challenges too and we have responded in this budget with the largest ever seafood sector budget, up 62% in 2022. This includes funding for schemes under the Brexit adjustment reserve and the seafood sector task force. Funding will also be provided for the upcoming European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, as the budget also includes energy supports for seafood sector businesses.

I am very much aware of the challenges facing farm families. I am working closely with the Ministers of State, Deputy Heydon and Senator Hackett. Over the year ahead we will continue to support vital farm families in every way we can.


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