Morning business news - February 21

Friday 21 February 2014 10.44
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is meeting the Irish Farmers' Association's executive council today to discuss the ongoing agri-taxation review. The association wants to see agricultural production positively incentivised at farm level and supports for family farms. At the time the review was announced, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said its aim was not to change the level of support to the sector through the tax system, but rather to maximise the benefits of the existing level of support. 

IFA president Eddie Downey says that while he believes no farm reliefs are under threat by the review, there is a need to protect some of them. Mr Downey says the areas of farm taxation and reliefs is under review, including the layers of taxation involved in transferring land from one generation to the next. He hopes the review will result in land being transferred more efficiently and that agricultural industry can continue to expand and grow to its potential. Pointing out that it is a strong growth industry, the IFA President says that farm exports expanded from €7 billion to €10 billion over the last few years.

Mr Downey says that by their nature, farms are low income and Irish farms are very spread out with a number of different parcels of land on most farms. He says he would like to see a system where those parcels could be consolidated, ensure a smooth transfer of land to the next generation and get young people into the agricultural industry. He predicts that farmers will invest between €1.6 billion to €2 billion in the industry over the next few years and the IFA wants to make sure that the backing structures are in place to make sure that investment takes place properly.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Just over 3 million Irish people, equivalent to 84% of adults in the country, read a newspaper either in print or online form. But fewer people are buying copies and the rise in digital subscriptions is not making up for the fall in circulation - a familiar refrain for the industry. Latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures show newspaper sales fell by just over 6% in the second half of last year. Daily and Sunday titles lost circulation pretty much across the board. The one outlier was the Irish Daily Mail which added 24 copies to just over 49,000 daily sales during that period.

*** Five companies, supported by the state inward investment agency IDA Ireland, are announcing new investments today between Dublin and Galway. The firms are planning to add 132 jobs here between them. 

*** Ratings agency Fitch as affirmed its credit rating on Ireland with a stable outlook. In order to upgrade from its current level of BBB+ Fitch says it would need to have greater confidence that the national debt as a percentage of annual economic output is on a definite downward trend. Risk factors it highlights include the possibility that weaker-than-expected economic performance would result in further bad debts being racked up within the banking system.