Budget 2023: Dairy farmer and father-of-three ‘pleasantly surprised’

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Farmer Cormac Browne was pleasantly surprised with Budget 2023.

ast week, he was not holding out much hope of any breaks that will make life easier for him and his family.

But with a number of new measures announced yesterday aimed at helping struggling businesses and farmers with their energy bills – on top of the €600 energy credit for all householders – he was feeling much more upbeat last night.

The 43-year-old father of three runs, with his wife Una, a dairy operation near Two Mile House in Co Kildare that has been in his family for generations.

Nothwithstanding the fact he has three growing children – Ella (9), Senan (10) and Connall (15) – to feed, his biggest worry was paying the electricity bill for both his family and his farm.

His household electricity bills alone cost around €350 a month and he was shocked when he recently got a one-month electricity bill for the farm for €1,000.

Two years ago he was paying around €300 a month for electricity for the farm.

“The biggest cost is for electricity for the milking machine and cooler,” he said of the 70-cow operation.

The only saving grace is the price of milk has gone up to offset some of his operating costs.

“I’d be in trouble otherwise,” he told the Independent.ie.

However, he said the €1.25bn Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS) announced in the Budget that would provide qualifying businesses and farms with grants to cover up to 40pc of the increase in their gas and electricity bills – up to a ceiling of €10,000 a month – would be a huge burden off his shoulders.

“If I do qualify for it, it’s very good,” he said.

He also welcomed an extension on the excise duty relief for green diesel to February 2023, which would ease the pressure on his growing diesel bills that have gone up massively since the war in Ukraine.

He further welcomed the announcement of a new grant of up to €90,000 to install solar panels, as well as capital funding to support the development of anaerobic digestion in 2023.

“I think that’s a great idea,” he said.

However, he was not as keen on a 10pc levy being imposed on concrete or concrete products, which he said was “a bit disappointing”, as well as not offering more to help farmers offset the skyrocketing cost of fertiliser. Instead, the Government will provide €8m to farmers to spread lime.

“Fertiliser was €380 to €400 a tonne. Now it’s gone to €1,200 a tonne in less than a year,” he said.

But overall, he said the measures announced come as good news.

“I suppose I had my cynical hat on last week, but I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

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