The calls were made by David McWilliams and were met with resistance from ICSA rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock.
Mr Sherlock said this taxation would be more at home in Zimbabwe and that “This is the sort of populist nonsense that would be more at home in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and we all know how that has panned out.”
Mr Sherlock said these comments, made by McWilliams, describes land as a useless asset which generates no creativity, innovation or enhanced productivity. Sherlock added that these comments were made ignoring the fact that land is used to feed Europe’s populations and also helps attracts tourists, is a carbon store and provides a source for renewable energy.
“During the crash when this country was at risk of going under, farmers kept their shoulders to the wheel and used the land to increase our agri-food exports year after year to some €11.15 billion in 2016.” said Sherlock.
“This would not have been possible if we had taxed land to the hilt or dismissed it as useless. Unlike other sectors, the value of agri-food exports has minimal import content and has a trickle down benefit to all rural communities rather than being repatriated internationally.”, he added.
He then said that McWilliams comments in his article was inspired by the same thinking as the thugs of Robert Mugabe, who dispossessed some of Zimbabwe’s most successful farmers from their land.
“(the article)is redolent of the kind of thinking based on begrudgery that inspired Robert Mugabe’s thugs to take over farmland in Zimbabwe which has resulted in the large scale displacement of some of Africa’s most successful farmers. The outcome has been catastrophic and the breadbasket of Southern Africa has become the basket case.” said Mr. Sherlock.
He continued, “While there may well be a case to incentivise the development of inner city sites in Dublin for housing, this is no excuse to impose another burden on hard working farmers in rural Ireland who are already under severe income pressure. Far from being privileged, farmers who own land have seen their labours increasingly undermined by greedy retailers and processors who take more and more margin from the food chain.”.
He concluded by calling for the taking of a fair share of taxes from operations with revenues in the billions, rather than farmers having to pay.
“A far better focus would be to take a fair share of tax from such operations who are clearly making billions off the back of farmers,” concluded Mr Sherlock.