In a week when a Government minister floated a tax cut to attract emigrants back to Ireland, one Macra na Feirme chairwoman says it may be wiser to look towards the high cost of motor insurance.
Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell-O'Connor suggested that "highly skilled" workers earning over €75,000 abroad should be tempted back by cutting their tax rate to 30%. The reduced rate would be in place for five years according to the plan.
Speaking to ThatsFarming.com about motor insurance, Tina Glynn of the Hill 16 Dublin Macra noted that tackling the cost of living by bringing insurance prices under control as well as keeping no claims bonuses may work as a better incentive for emigrants. She said:
"From people I've spoken to, the cost of car insurance has come up as a reason why people we have exported might be reluctant to come back.
"Another aspect from members is those returning from living abroad, they have lost their no claims bonus. One member in Mayo moved to Canada, they took on his no claims bonus but that wasn't replicated when he got back to Ireland. That is a major deterrent."
Motor insurance costs have been a regular topic recently, though Ms Glynn feels the impact it has had on young farmers has been overlooked. A survey of Macra na Feirme members showed 40 per cent of members find it to be the pressing issue that needs to be dealt with.
Ms Glynn pointed out the importance of a car to a young farmer.
"When living in rural Ireland, having a car isn't a luxury it is a necessity. It is often the only outlet for family, social and work life. The repercussions need to be looked at more, and in conjunction with that is the quality of the roads, it is intertwined. When insurance companies are accessing your insurance premiums, companies know you will be on the road more and the infrastructure around you won't be as good as it would be if you're in an urban setting.
"Often when the insurance hikes gets covered in the media there is a focus on older drivers. There can be this negative boy racer image, and that has to stop," she explained.
When it came to specific examples, Ms Glynn said one 29 year old male colleague found his premium had more than doubled from €495 to €1,078. This was despite his eight years driving experience with no claims.
Another colleague lives in rural Sligo where "busses are not an option". A college student who works part-time, he needs his car for both. However the €1,400 price is a "major problem", while in this case he too has a full, clean licence.
The rising costs of the premiums has been put partly down to a monopolising of the market by insurance companies, leading to increasingly inflated prices. A working group has been setup to tackle this by the Government. It is chaired by Junior Minister for Finance Eoghan Murphy, who Ms Glynn hopes to assist with on the matter.