Farmers Can Now Get 100pc Tax Back For Farm Safety Measures

Farmers are being offered 100pc tax relief for equipment to improve farm safety and save lives, Junior Agriculture Minister, Martin Heydon, has revealed.

The money can be spent on a wide variety of equipment including devices which would help farmers already injured, or otherwise impaired, to adapt things like tractors to help them get back to work.

These include things like wheelchair hoists and docking stations and tractor control adaptations to allow for more foot or hand operation.

The move comes as figures show farm accidents and death rates remain stubbornly high despite many campaigns, accounting for 50pc of fatal Irish work accidents. Farmers make up just 6pc of the overall workforce.

Mr Heydon, a Fine Gael TD with a background in farming in south Kildare, said he favours incentives to improve safety – and will resist suggested enforcement moves like linking grant payments to safety standards.

The new scheme will allow 50pc of safety investment to be reclaimed each year over two years.

It speeds up the existing general investment tax refund system which allows farmers recoup 12.5pc of investment in equipment and other assets over a total of eight years.

“The problem is that, while farmers appreciate the need to invest in safety, there are often more pressing needs, especially since many sectors are under constant pressure and money is often scarce.

“The real aim here is to speed things up,” Mr Heydon said.

Junior Agriculture Minister Martin Haydon

Statistics on deaths from work accidents show that, out of 46 deaths in 2019, 18 were either in farming, forestry or fishing.

Between 2014 and 2019 a total of 214 people died in farm accidents and a disproportionate number of them were either children or elderly people.

Mr Heydon, whose ministerial responsibilities include farm safety, said the scheme will be “demand-led”.

But indicators from the Department of Finance suggest it will allow a global volume of equipment worth €5m to be purchased in 2021 and it is expected to cost taxpayers €1.5m in total.

The Department of Agriculture has already compiled a wide-ranging list of items likely to qualify for this tax relief.

They include special hydraulic jacks for tractors to improve safety for wheel-changing; lifting and opening systems for big bags of fertiliser or seeds; durable and locked cabinets to store chemicals; and hitching systems to avoid the need to get off a tractor.

Special devices to help farmers already hurt and impaired in previous accidents get back to work safely are a major focus of attention.

Mr Heydon said that everyone in rural Ireland was well aware of the heartbreak arising from farm accidents, the battle against them must continue.

(Source – Irish Independent – Indo Farming – John Downing, Political Correspondent – 05/01/2021)

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