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Change in ‘active farmer’ clause is sought by FG TD

Francis Farragher

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Dr Orla Smithwick, Oranmore and Colette Fahy, Headford, at the McGaugh's Garden Centre workshop on winter planting last weekend. PHOTO: STAN SHIELDS.

UNDER the current regulations, it would be the ultimate nightmare for a young part-time farmer to inherit the land from their parents, according to an East Galway TD.

The vast majority of farmers in County Galway are operating on a part-time basis and this impacts on the inheritance tax they pay. In order to qualify for the maximum rate of tax relief, a young farmer has to spend more than 50% of his time operating the holding, according to Deputy Paul Connaughton.

This rule comes into effect at the beginning of next year but now efforts are being made to have this rule amended. At the moment a parent can sign over the land to their son or daughter and they in turn will qualify for the full tax reliefs.

But following the recent Budget, this will now only apply if they ‘actively farm at least 50% of their time on the land’.

According to Deputy Connaughton there are more part-time farmers in County Galway than there are full-time.“It goes without saying that it is very difficult to make a liveable wage being a full time farmer which is why an off-farm income is vital for survival.

“But under the new rules, a farmer has to spend more than 50% of their time on the land before they qualify for the full tax reliefs. For some, this is an impossible ask,” Deputy Connaughton added.

He said that if this became law, many farmers would not be in a position to transfer their lands to their sons or daughters as it would be financially crippling.

Young part-time farmers are anxiously awaiting changes to the rules that were introduced in the budget. It is understood that Minister Michael Noonan is having another look at the conditions attached to land transfers.

“The Budget made great strides to get land into the hands of people who can commercially work such lands, particularly through long-term leasing.

“But if it becomes a reality, particularly in the west of Ireland where over 60% of all farmers are part-time, there will be large tracts of land that will not be transferred as it would financially ruin small farmers,”  the Fine Gael TD said.

Deputy Connaughton has been in touch with the Finance Minister in the hope of changes being made to land transfer rules.

Connacht Tribune

Replanting is the way to go after felling

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TONY LENIGHAN of the Western Forestry Co-op looks at the dos and don'ts of what’s involved when replanting is on the agenda.

A lot of private forest owners have harvested their trees and reaped the reward of strong timber prices in the last year, and you may be wondering, how or when, to replant your land and what are the options.

Firstly, forest land is a valuable asset and should be replanted for both yourself and the next generation.

You can replant with the same trees if you were happy with the return or change to a mix of species, but this very much depends on the soil type and quality – a forester such as myself can advise you on this.

You must also check the replanting conditions that came with your felling licence – we can help advise here if you are not happy with those conditions.

An important point is the sooner replanting is completed after clearfell, the less maintenance it will cost you in the long-term.

Western Forestry Co-op provide two different options for forest owners. The first is for initial establishment to include mounding/windrowing, good quality trees, planting and fertilising.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Bidders are back at mart ringsides

Francis Farragher

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Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell

THE return of buyers in-person to the mart rings from Monday, May 17 next, has been welcomed by farm representatives as an important step in the return to more normal trading.

Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, confirmed last week that the buyers would be allowed back both at ringside and to view stock in pens – but only by prior appointment with mart.

Buyers must wear suitable face coverings and maintain a strict two-metre social distancing space while marts have also been advised that they must take steps to prevent any congregation of people in their car-parks or at entry points to their premises.

IFA Livestock Chairman, Brendan Golden, who welcomed the announcement of the buyers returning to the ringside said that he also hoped sellers could also be facilitated from May 17 next – with all public health protocols and guidelines to be observed.

Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, said that the coming back of the buyers to the ring was an important first step in a return to some sense of normality at the mart sales and she also called for consideration to be given to the return of sellers to the ring as well.

“The return of the buyers is good news for everyone and we are hoping that shortly the sellers can be accommodated too. It goes without saying that it is incumbent on everyone to adhere strictly to all the public health guidelines that are in place,” said Anne Mitchell.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Scheme will require a long list of specific actions from participants

Francis Farragher

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The benefits of hedgerows to the environment are highlighted in the pilot REAP scheme graphic, such as support for wildlife, crop protection, the provision of shelter/shade, flood control and as an absorber of carbon.

THE Results-based Environmental-Agri Pilot (REAP) is a two-year project that is based on the model used in the Burren Programme and others such as Hen Harrier and Pearly Mussel projects, according to the Dept. of Agriculture.

In their official booklet on the scheme, the Dept. point out that REAP differs from the ‘prescription based’ model used in GLAS – instead farmers are ‘rewarded’ by linking payments to the quality of environmental outcomes delivered.

The Dept. point out that in REAP, grassland, field margins and field boundaries are scored using indicators which reflect the environmental value of these features.

“This approach has the effect of creating a market for environmental services including: biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water quality and soil health.

“[The scheme] will provide an opportunity and incentive for farmers to earn payments for managing their farmland in an environmentally friendly manner in tandem with our need to produce high quality food,” the Dept. state.

Some of the key elements in the ‘farm with nature’ philosophy outlined in REAP are: measures to save bee species; good buffer zones at watercourses; incorporating legumes (peas and beans) into reseeds; nurturing taller vegetation; a three-year cycle of hedge cutting rather than an annual one; enhancing field margins and hedgerows; and the restoration of dry-stone walls (no cement to be used).

In terms of low-input grassland, a suitable field for entry into the scheme is described as one that receives low levels of fertiliser (both chemical and organic); a low ryegrass cover (under 30%); and a minimum of four grass species.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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