In a parallel universe, where the National Ploughing Championships didn’t happen last week, it’s possible that we would have had an announcement of an energy support scheme for small business that excluded most farms.

Last week’s Irish Farmers Journal front page shared the concern that the energy scheme, which was to include farmers, might actually exclude farmers who operate as sole traders. This was in part based on Leo Varadkar’s repeated usage of the phrase “farm businesses” when confirming the intention for such a scheme.

I understand the IFA tackled the Tánaiste on the matter when he visited their stand at the Ploughing. There, it emerged that the dividing line might be whether the electricity meter was classified as “domestic” or “business”.

When the IFA pointed out that most farms’ meters were classified as domestic, it became apparent there was a potential issue, one the minister’s officials may have been utterly unaware of. The problem phrase disappeared, and budget day passed without incident, at least in relation to the energy payment, which could be worth over €1,000 per month for a dairy farmer who is still milking through the winter.

For vegetable, poultry, pig and dairy farms, in particular, but for every farmyard to some extent, this will be most welcome.

The three-day shindig in Ratheniska, which brought Government ministers into close and continuous proximity to both the farm organisations and the agri-media, turbocharged the conversation and negotiation process to fix any holes prior to budget day.

Had there been no Ploughing, we could have had a massive row between the Government and the farm organisations.

Following weeks of dialogue, a solution would probably have been found to fix the issue, with it becoming clear that the original exclusion was largely inadvertent. All avoided.

The opposite was true of the Accelerated Capital Allowance for slurry storage announced in the budget. This was a ball of confusion.

Was the write-off 50% in each of the first two years, or 50% over the first two years, with the balance to follow across subsequent years? There is a significant difference between the two, but both alternatives were specified in different parts of budget documents released on Tuesday.


Thankfully, when clarification came on Wednesday, the more attractive option for farmers will operate, with farmers able to write off half their expenditure in each of the first two years.

It suggests that the measure was a late addition to the budget. Could it have been included to offset expected farmer anger at the imposition of a 10% concrete levy?

This “mica tax” was an unpleasant surprise in a budget which otherwise was leaked like water from an old wooden trailer.