Members of Fine Gael’s Agriculture Food and Development Forum (from left): Colm Markey MEP, Shane Dolphin, Minister Martin Heydon, Councillor Paula Butterly, Richard Bruton TD, Eddie Downey and David Drum.

Issues around transfer of family farms remain high on agenda - Fine Gael politicians told

Tax relief and farm succession on the transfer of family holdings from one generation to the next should be given consideration ahead of Budget 2024, the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party was told last week.

On Wednesday, Fine Gael’s Agricultural, Food and Rural Development Forum (NAFRD) presented the group’s priority issues to members of the parliamentary party at Leinster House, Dublin. The high-level meeting came about following a series of meetings across the country over the last year since the group was established.

The NAFRD was formed to serve as a representative body for rural Fine Gael members and the parliamentary body. It has held a series of events, including two regional conferences over the past six months, which has afforded the forum the opportunity to engage with 2,500 people on issues that matter to them in their communities. The group comprises 61 delegates nationwide.

Chairperson of the Fine Gael NAFRD, Eddie Downey, former President of the IFA, said the meeting was presented with a summary of points amassed from those engagements.

“The meeting was an important milestone for us and I am encouraged by the responses we received. Our previous engagements resulted in successful outcomes to our pre-Budget 2023 submission and I hope for a similar achievement this year,” Mr Downey said.

The NAFRD identified a range of issues concerning rural Ireland, which predominantly relate to environmental, planning and taxation matters.

“EU legislation, such as the nitrates, nature restoration and pesticide regulation directives will impact significantly on farmers, and they want clarity around how these will impact on their business,” Mr Downey continued.

“We’ve seen huge strides made in recent weeks with additional measures being added to the Vacant Property and Derelict Rural Property refurbishments schemes, and that is definitely being acknowledged. However, there is perhaps more that we can do to streamline the planning process for these projects.

“Capital Acquisitions Tax and agriculture reliefs remain firmly on the farming agenda, but stock relief and stamp duty are also emerging as areas where changes could be made," he further outlined.

Currently, these reliefs are available to those aged 35 years and under but Mr Downey said there is an argument to be made for extending it to those aged 40 years and under. "Similarly, capital allowances on the transfer of family farms from one generation to the next is an issue that recurs consistently. Land tax zoning is an issue that must be resolved too,” Mr Downey added.

The meeting with Fine Gael Ministers, TDs and Senators, he said, helped to focus "on how we best serve rural Ireland in the coming months, years and indeed, generations ahead".

Mr Downey continued: “There is a clear will to acknowledge and understand the issues rippling through our rural villages and towns and I am encouraged that there is also a will there to work towards delivering viable solutions that will safeguard these communities and foster growth and prosperity.

“This forum provides a vital link between rural Ireland and the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, and represents the views of people working in agriculture and food sectors, as well as wider community groups and organisations,” he concluded.