Budget changes for Farmers

Well, that budget, that was driving us all mad with the constant mentions of it in the media, has now passed. ?The government does seem to be supporting the handing over of farms to the younger generation (I think I’m correct in saying that only 5% of farmers are under 35) and the percentages in place re inheritence have been maintained. When I inherited this farm some years ago, I had to complete a ‘Green Cert’ to show I had completed various courses. ?As I had a degree, I could bypass a lot of it and completed it in 5 weeks rather than doing a one or two year course.

Many fathers tend to hold the ‘farming reins’ as long as possible and some years ago, an ‘early retirement scheme’ was launched to encourage farmers to hand over the farms to their sons and they would receive a pension that was higher than the old age pension on the condition they didn’t interfere with or work on the farm. ?Farming practices change and quite often, farmers don’t change with them. The types of farming that produced a satisfactory income in the 1980s would lose farmers thousands each year now and that is why new blood and training is required.

They have cut the ‘disadvantaged aid’ in the budget. We used to get a payment of ?3,500 a year to compensate for some of our heavy land (as it would need extra work and cost to get it productive – for example, we paid about ?10,000 this year for reclaiming, draining and re-seeding heavy land with fresh grass seed – the extra cost to us over a farmer with good land is the extra cost of digging drains). ?As some of our land is fine and not eligible for this grant, it will be cut to about ?1,000 a year. ?Reps 4 is being cut by 10% too.

We have been considering getting wind turbines for some time. We’d love to invest in the humongous wind turbines (plenty of wind) but due to lack of time, finance and probably a bit of procrastination and perhaps realism, we haven’t proceeded too far, however, it is there on the ‘back burner’ of our minds. (I do have a photo of 8 huge windturbines that are quite near to us but can’t find it!)

However, a change has been made in the budget and we can now claim back the VAT on micro wind turbines, a wind turbine that would supply electricity for our dairy farm and house. ?As our electricity bills are in excess of ?6,000 a year and will rise next year with the 12% increase, this is something we need to look at and quickly. ?Brian has been talking to various companies over the last couple of years and phoned a couple yesterday. We need to be quick as apparently while connection to the grid is free at the moment and we would be paid for the surplus electricity we produce, that is set to end at the end of February and there is no indication as yet whether it will be extended.

Apart from the rise in VAT, household charge, bus increases etc, the main change that will affect us is the way the health insurance companies will now be charged for public beds. Apparently, up till now, unless a private patient was lucky enough to get one of the very scarce private rooms or semi-private rooms in a hospital, the insurance company didn’t have to pay out for the bed whereas now they do. ?We never took out private health insurance when we were in the UK, maybe it was because we were young enough then to feel invincible but I trusted the NHS, I got great care when I was pregnant with Will, most of my appointments involved seeing a midwife at my local doctor’s and I was seen on time, got to know her well and didn’t worry once. I had a fall at 7 months, right onto the ‘bump’ and got a fright. We phoned the hospital, they told us to come in, we were seen with no delay, monitored for a couple of hours and were sent home reassured. ?I ended up having a section with Will and was in for 6 days in total but the ward was large and roomy, bright with large windows and there was loads of space around each bed.

Luckily enough, my only experiences with hospitals have been pregnancy related. ?When I was 7 weeks pregnant with Kate, I had to go in for 3 days and was on a drip as I just couldn’t keep anything down. Initially they put me in a public ward and although I was so ill, I didn’t care, yet the noise from the television and the closeness of the beds and the general claustrophobia made me almost wish for death! A nurse moved me to a private room which was dark and dank but at least it was quiet, when a brighter room became free they moved me to it and as I was started to feel better, I much appreciated it. When I went in to have Kate, they wanted to put me back in that dark dank room and I refused! ?The public wards in the maternity hospital in Portlaoise were unbelievably cramped – tiny little rooms with 3 women in each. ?I didn’t want the company of other women, I was happy spending time with my baby and sleeping and looking at her and was perfectly happy in my own little room.

However, with hospitals being paid for their private patients whether or not they are in a public or private room, I do wonder will less private rooms be built or maintained. I know people will argue that the care you get is the same, whether you are public or private but I don’t think anyone in the family of Susie Long would agree. ?I pay our health insurance for peace of mind and if I was to ever become pregnant again, I would go private, even though it now costs about ?4000 apparently to be seen by a private consultant. ?And yes, that is way too male dominated in my opinion but there just aren’t enough midwives. ?Having heard stories of women waiting for hours to be seen when they have had a scare, our health service may be good compared to some countries but unfortunately, it just isn’t good enough to give me peace of mind, to reassure me that if I, or Brian, or one of the children needed medical help,, that we would get it quickly enough. ?I don’t like the two tier system but despite the increase in the charge, we will still be paying it.



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