Call issued for the re-introduction of the Horticulture Exceptional Aid Payment
The issue of work permits was also raised at the IFA's meeting with Senator Regina Doherty
15 June 2023
An IFA horticulture delegation met with Senator Regina Doherty in Kinsealy, Co. Dublin to call for the immediate re-introduction of the Horticulture Exceptional Aid Payment with enhanced rates covering all sectors.
Senator Regina Doherty was confident that the funding can be put in place.
At the meeting, IFA fruit and vegetable chairman Niall McCormack said the Irish horticulture sector remains under intense pressure. More growers have exited production again this year and the future is frightening for growers.
“The unprecedented spike in costs over the past 18 months has not abated for growers. The bills have not come down yet and we cannot ignore that the Irish horticulture sector is still in turmoil,” he said.
The amendment to the Finance Act last year to allow an exemption on natural gas carbon tax for horticultural production is welcome. However, detail of how this would be administered is still unknown. Senator Doherty gave a commitment that a full tax rebate would be available for 2023.
The issue of work permits was also raised at the meeting. “It is critical that the Irish horticulture sector has access to a continuous supply of labour. A bespoke seasonal work permit scheme must be introduced without delay. The fact that the UK and many other European countries have work permit programmes in place puts Irish growers at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.
The longstanding issue of peat availability for the domestic horticulture sector was also discussed. The only measure that will resolve this is to introduce primary legislation to allow for the extraction of domestic peat for the Irish market.
IFA challenged the penal nature of Residential Zoned Land Tax and called for the immediate introduction of an exemption for active farmers.
McCormack said what’s in place is nothing short of a ‘land grab exercise’ and will force the sale of intergenerational held and farmed land.
“There’s a huge amount of emotional stress among impacted farm families as a consequence of this disproportionate and unfair tax,” said McCormack. “Urgent action and amended legislation are needed to protect impacted farmers families.”