FCI calls for all election manifestos to include Carbon Taxes Equality for Farm & Forestry Contractors
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) has called on the all of the main political parties and rural independent TD’s to include in their respective Election 2020 Manifesto documents an agreement that the Carbon Tax changes will be made to the Finance Act and the registration of Farm & Forestry Contractors be included in the 2020 Programme for Government, on the formation of a new Government
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FCI calls for immediate action on Forestry Licences
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) has called on the Minister for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., to issue, with immediate effect, a significant number of Tree Felling Licences, Afforestation and Forest Road Building licences, for Private and State-funded (Coillte) forestry activity, more immediately, Tree Felling or Harvesting in order to offset a national disaster with the Forestry Harvesting Contracting sector.
FCI has reported huge concerns among our Forestry Harvesting Contractor members, caused as a result of the unnecessary and prolonged delays in the issuing of Tree Felling Licences as administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Section. “These delays, often caused by unwarranted and unsustainable third party objections, are forcing of our many Forestry Harvesting Contractors out of work from January 2020. They will be forced to cease their Forestry Harvesting Contracting operations and to make their highly trained teams of skilled operators redundant,” said Michael Moroney, FCI Chief Executive.
FCI has warned the Minister that the impact of not issuing these Tree Felling Licences will mean the following:
• A loss of income for these Forestry Harvesting Contractors
• A loss of machine skill talent that cannot be easily replaced
• Loss of expensive machines to the sector
• Bankruptcy of operators who have years of experience in the sector
• Reduction in forest planting as the harvesting outflow is unreliable
• Loss of national opportunity to improve carbon sequestration from Irish forestry
The Association is also significantly disappointed that the role of the Forestry Contractor, who provides high capital cost machinery services for forest planting, road building and tree felling services, was not mentioned in any part of the recent “Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland” that was carried out by Jim Mackinnon, CBE on behalf of the Forestry Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Forestry Contractors provide an essential service through huge levels of private equity investment in modern and efficient high capital cost efficient machinery. FCI research has shown that Forestry Contractors employ in the region of 1,000 skilled machinery operators who are trained to optimise some of the most technically proficient machines, to the highest levels to achieve huge economy of scale in Irish forest production.
The forestry sector in Ireland is 100% exchequer funded but it must, nevertheless, comply with EU State Aid Rules. In Ireland, forestry policy and the administration of the various schemes is the responsibility of the Forest Section of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine. FCI urged Minister Doyle to now take on this responsibility to ensure the survival of the Forestry Harvesting Contractor, which is facing a huge end of year challenge.
The Tree Felling Licences issue relates to the right of appeal on forestry decisions. The recent Mackinnon Report reported, “In Ireland, a third party right of appeal is deeply embedded on the right to challenge land use decisions and legislation to remove this right is unlikely to be introduced. The case for placing third party rights of appeal on forestry on a similar financial basis to planning is unarguable. Fees should be introduced as a matter of urgency for making a submission on an application and lodging an appeal.”
Mackinnon accepted that an appeals system which allows third parties, at no cost, to challenge decisions of the Department has created further delays with significant administrative costs. It is now costing Forestry Harvesting Contractor significantly as many are now facing an empty order book for tree felling into 2020.
FCI Chief Executive Michael Moroney said, “The introduction of the forestry third party right of appeal process has had far reaching consequences in terms of delays but has also resulted in significant additional costs, more to Forestry Harvesting Contractors than any other sector of the forestry value-added chain. In the house planning process in Ireland there are fees for making a submission on a planning application and lodging an appeal. It is unprecedented that similar actions on licensing, felling and road access applications do not attract a fee,” he added.
“Jim Mackinnon has also recommended that there should be a fee for each appeal and that these should be in line with the comparable planning fees. At FCI, we are urging the Minister for Forestry to ensure that a minimum fee of €50 per objection be put in place with immediate effect, and for a period of five years, when subject to review, for all valid objections, third party or otherwise, to the issue of licences for Afforestation, Forest Road Construction and Tree Felling,” said Michael Moroney.
FCI is reporting that the time delays taken to reach decisions on felling license applications are now significant. “The Mackinnon report has highlighted that in August 2019, only 8% of licences for planting, road building or felling were issued within 4 months and 23% within 6 months,” said Michael Moroney.
FCI has outlined (see Table 1) the level of private investment undertaken by Irish Forest Machinery Contractors in recent years and the replacement value of their fleet of modern, efficient and high output harvesting machinery. This FCI research shows that the harvesting element of services provided by Irish Forest Machinery Contractors accounts for huge investments, many of which have not been grant supported.
FCI said that Irish Forest Machinery Contractors are now the most vulnerable group in a Forestry environment as a consequence of the licences delays. These machines have been privately funded by Forest Contractors, with significant monthly repayment needs.
Manage Costs and Your Money at Silage 2020
Many Farm Contractors are reviewing their activities following an expensive 2019 season for those contractors who make pit silage for their client farmers. Here is some useful advice for running a successful Agri contractor business.
Know the costs involved in your running business (labour, fuel, time spent carrying out repairs and the cost of financing your machinery). Any basic costing analysis will show that a 100hp tractor is costing you, the contractor, €50/hour before you put a machine or trailer behind.
Properly cost your silage making operation & charge accordingly, not for reasons of cash flow, for a profit to allow to reinvest in the best Machinery for your customers future needs.
Send out invoices quickly and chase for payment - it’s your money & extended credit costs your business dearly. Add interest to overdue accounts not paid after 30 days from invoicing.
Join the FCI for more
KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING
L-Plate & N-Plate Driver Questions & Answers for Tractor Drivers
Question 1: Is the driver of a tractor with a W Learner Permit or a W and B Provisional Licence, required to have a qualified driver in the tractor cab with them at all times when driving on the public road, if there is a second (instructor) seat fitted to the tractor cab?
Answer 1: No, the driver who holds a W Learner Permit shall not carry a passenger in or on such a vehicle unless the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger (has a second seat) and that such a passenger already holds a full drivers licence, B or W category, otherwise NO PASSENGERS by LAW!
Question 2: If hold a ‘W’ licence Learner Permit are you required to display an L plate when driving a tractor and trailer?
Answer 2: You are NOT required to display L plates if you hold a Learner Permit in Category W, they are required for a range of other licence categories.
Question 3: If you have held a ‘W’ licence for a number of years and seek a provisional ‘B’ licence why should you have to display an L plate when driving a tractor and or trailer, if you already hold and have held for more than a year a full ‘W’ licence?
Answer 3: You are not required to display L plates if you hold a Learner Permit in Category W, they are required for a range of other licence categories.
Question 4: If you already hold a W and B licence and you are driving a tractor with a trailer/implement attached that is displaying an L or N plate from a previous driver, are you considered to be breaking the law for displaying either of these signs? If so what is the fine for such activities?
Answer 4: You are NOT breaking the law and there is no fines relating to such activities.
Message on Safety Awareness when working near ESB Networks overhead electricity lines
The ESB Networks has sought the support of members of the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) in raising awareness of the dangers associated with working near overhead ESB Networks electricity wires.
Arthur Byrne, Public Safety Manager at ESB Networks, advises all contractors saying, “A major risk is working near overhead electricity wires. Coming close to these live wires is extremely hazardous and can be fatal. Very serious electrical accidents have taken place involving silage machinery, both in the silage field and at the silage pit.”
Contact, or even near contact,
with electricity lines can be fatal.
The minimum safe distance is
3 metres, horizontally and vertically;
it is more for higher voltage lines.
Arthur Byrne says that accidents
with overhead wires are preventable
with advance planning and safe
behaviours. He advises putting
these precautions into practice
Watch out for Poles and Stay Wires
Identify where Poles and Stays are
in the field and avoid coming within
You may need to physically ‘Red
Avoid crossing beneath
Overhead Lines and Work Parallel
to the Line.
Arthur says that Poles and
Overhead Lines must never be
close to a silage pit.
If they are closer than 6 metres,
you must contact ESB Networks
to re-locate. Do not work until ESB
Networks advises that it is safe to
If you have concerns about overhead wires, poles, or stays, please phone this number 1850 372 999 (24 hour/ 7 day service) immediately. In an emergency, the speed of your phone call could make all the difference.
The emergency contact number is 1850 372 999 (24 hour/ 7 day service). He advises all Farm & Forestry contractors To store this number in your mobile phone.
In an accident situation, where any part of the machine is in contact with the electricity line/equipment, follow these steps:
Stay in the cab;
Keep everyone else clear of the scene, at least 5 metres;
Phone ESB Networks immediately;
If possible, reverse out of the contact situation;
If you exit the cab (e.g. because of fire) , jump clear and take short steps until you are 5 metres clear;
Do not return to the cab.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, TOUCH the line or anything the line may be in contact with.
KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING
FCI calls for all election manifestos to include Carbon Taxes Equality for Farm & Forestry Contractors
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) has called on the all of the main political parties and rural independent TD’s to include in their respective Election 2020 Manifesto documents an agreement that the Carbon Tax changes will be made to the Finance Act and the registration of Farm & Forestry Contractors be included in the 2020 Programme for Government, on the formation of a new Government, as follows:
Finance Act: “A person entitled to a deduction for agricultural/farm diesel (MGO) in computing the profits or gains of their registered Farm and Forestry Contracting trade is entitled to a further deduction in computing those profits or gains of an amount equal to the additional carbon tax charged on that farm diesel as a result of the increase in the rate of the tax from 1 May 2012.”
Programme for Government: “The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and in association with the Revenue Commissioners and the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) will create a national register for Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland.”
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) is also deeply abhorred by the lack of acknowledgement and understanding of the hugely important role of the Farm & Forestry Contractor sector in Irish agriculture by the outgoing Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD.
In a recent RTE One radio debate on the issue of Carbon Tax, on Today with Sean O’Rourke, the Minister and Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, who is also a contractor and FCI member, were joined by Fianna Fáil spokesperson for agriculture Charlie McConalogue. In demonstrating his lack of understanding of the role of the Farm & Forestry Contractor, Minister Creed suggested that “contractors insist that farmers provide the diesel because of that” for the contractor’s tractors and machinery.
“It is widely accepted that many farmers would not have access to quantities of diesel that are required to fuel a modern silage harvesting system and contractors using modern machinery would be very slow to take diesel supplies from sources where they could not rely on consistency of quality,” said Richard White, National Chairman of the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) in supporting Michael Fitzmaurice.
Background information on Carbon Tax Credits for Farm & Forestry Contractors
Farm & Forestry Contractor services provide a unique value-added component to the chain of Irish agricultural production ensuring the competitiveness of Irish agricultural production through the use of efficient and modern lower carbon machinery systems. Today, Irish Farm & Forestry Contractors now carry out 90% of the mechanisation work on Irish farms.
Despite this, Farm & Forestry Contractors remain excluded from the Carbon Tax Rebate System, (Finance (No.2) Act 2013 Edition - Part 23) which is open solely to farmers. This is despite the fact in carrying out 90% of the farm mechanisation work on Irish farms, their modern and efficient machine consume close to 350 million litres of green diesel annually valued at in excess of €262 million. This alone is 62% of the total energy bill for the entire Irish agricultural sector based on the total expenditure on energy and lubricants of €424.1 million in 2018. (Source: Dept. of Agriculture Annual Review & Outlook 2019).
Farm diesel used by a Farmer in the course of a farming trade is a deductible cost and, as carbon tax is included in the cost of that diesel, a farmer obtains a second deduction in the form of a tax credit, for the amount of the carbon tax incurred on the purchase of farm diesel. (Finance Act 2013 Edition - Part 23 - 664A Relief for increase in carbon tax on farm diesel). As the deduction provided for in this section is in addition to the deduction for the cost of farm diesel, farmers are entitled to a double deduction for the increased carbon tax they incur on farm diesel purchased on or after 1 May 2012.
The Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI), research has shown that Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland employ close to 10,000 people operating machines on farms. Farm & Forestry Contactors use more than 350 million litres of diesel annually (61% of total agricultural energy consumption) in carrying out this farm work and operate more than 20,000 modern and fuel efficient tractors. Contractor machines harvest 90% of the Irish silage crops each year along with managing the sustainable spreading more than 20 billion litres of slurry, as well as establishing and harvesting many different crops.
Over the period of the current proposed increase in the Carbon Tax level from the current €20 per tonne to €80 per tonne by 2030, this will mean a substantial increase fuel cost of close to €100 million. Farm & Forestry Contractors will be forced pass on this additional €100 million cost to their 137,000 farming client customers.
These farmers cannot absorb this further increase at a time of tightening margins. FCI our members will be forced to pass on this substantial cost increase directly to farmers. This will equate to almost a 14% increase for all Farm & Forestry Contractor current annual charges turnover levels of more than €700 million.
KEEP SAFE - KEEP CONTRACTING
FCI Contractor Charges Guide 2020
The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is currently preparing its FCI Contracting Charges Guide for 2020. At FCI we are satisfied that this averaged price guide will act as a reasonable guide for both contractors and farmers. However, it must be remembered this is only a guide.
These figures are produced on an annual basis and are compiled by collating an average figure for each operation from a panel of FCI Contractor Members from across Ireland. This year sees contractors quoting a 5% increase in charges, rounded off in order to cope with the increases in costs of machinery and higher labour costs since the start of 2019.
Because of the local differences the actual prices quoted in the FCI Contractor Charges Guide may vary considerably between regions, across soil types, distance travelled, size of contract undertaken, size and type of equipment used as well as the amount of product spread. There are some consistencies in terms of operating costs which transcend all regions, these include the machinery depreciation costs and the finance costs as well as the machinery purchase costs.
The FCI is also aware that some contractors are now making individual arrangements with their customers regarding diesel (eg separate fuel surcharge, fuel used on-farm etc). The prices below do not reflect this as diesel prices are variable throughout the season. Such individual agreements may make a significant difference to contracting charges.
Agricultural contractors offer a wide range of machinery services to their customers and this is why they have been proven to be the best and economical choice for many Irish farming businesses. “FCI farm contractors have shown the ability to offer the best service to their customers, with skilled operators and modern machinery. While on occasion the dedicated land-based contractor may not always be the cheapest option, an amateur may end up costing your business more in the long run,” said Michael Moroney.
“FCI contractors provide their customers with a professional, prompt and efficient service, with the latest equipment, that’s properly maintained and with skilled operators. They are tax compliant, hold the correct contractor insurance along with health and safety certificates to protect you and your farm business. The price and value of this service is being increasingly appreciated by many farmers as they work with their contractors to become partners in the planned future growth of many successful farm businesses,” he added.
Contractors plan for the future at Confex 2019
The recent FCI Confex event attracted an attendance of over 550 people as unseasonal fine weather kept some contractors away from the event. Contractors travelled from throughout Ireland to the biennial event at the National Show Centre near Dublin Airport to an event that was created around their specialist machinery and information needs by the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI). The event featured a series of information presentations along with a large machinery display.
Michael Hennessy, Head of Crops Knowledge Transfer at Teagasc provided an insight into where contracting will be going in the next 10 years. He said that the tillage sector will be made up of more specialised growers. He said that contractors need to be aware that society is expecting more emphasis on land management rather than just traditional farming. This will mean that contractors will be required to have more knowledge and be able to provide advice to their farmer customers, he said. Michael told the contractors that increased use of new technology will help contractor and the grower and for the future the use of this technology will help to keep both viable.
The winner of the RIMOR toolkit in the FCI Confex Membership competition was Ronan Doughty, Virginia, Cavan, and the Country Crest hamper winner was Robert O'Shea, Tipperary while the €120 voucher from Declan Hayes Farm Machinery was won by Mike Barry, Cappawhite, Tipperary.
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