Michael Noonan has introduced a number of tax measures to support farming – which has an annual turnover of about €26bn billion and 170,000 employees.

Speaking the Dáil, he said because there would be no milk quotas from 2015 there was a need to make additional land available to young farmers.

To encourage the long term leasing of land he said he was:

- increasing the income tax exempt thresholds by 50% and introducing a new threshold for leases of 15 years and over; 

- allowing relief where the lessee is a company;

- removing the current 40 years of age threshold for leasing relief;
targeting CAT relief for agricultural property to ensure it is used by active farmers;

- broadening CGT retirement relief so that, for example, individuals can now lease out their land for up to 25 years prior to disposal and still be eligible for CGT retirement relief;

- extending CGT retirement relief to land let under conacre, which is disposed of, or converted to long term leasing before the end of 2016;

- extending stamp duty relief for non-residential land transfers between certain close relatives;  

- removing stamp duty on agricultural leases in excess of 5 years;

- extending CGT farm restructuring relief to the end of 2016 and broadening it to allow for restructuring through whole farm replacement.

To help farm families earn a steady income, he is increasing the range for income averaging from three to five years. 

Mr Noonan is also allowing income averaging on farm income to be available to farmers who derive income from another trade or profession, if this is due to on-farm diversification.

This measure will be reviewed after three years to assess how well it is working.

The farmers’ flat rate addition for farmers not registered for VAT is being increased from 5% to 5.2% with effect from 1 January.

In recognition of the importance of the bloodstock industry to the rural economy and the anticipated yield of €25m per annum from Betting Duty, the Government will be providing an additional €6m a year for three years to the fund for horse and greyhound racing.

The Government is also allocating additional capital of €5m to Horse Racing Ireland in 2015 for investment in racecourses.

To further boost the development of the microbreweries sector, Mr Noonan is increasing the annual excise relief production ceiling from 20,000 to 30,000 hectolitres.

The Government has also targeted the marine as a key area for further growth under the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy, with a target of doubling the value of Ireland’s blue economy by 2030.

Mr Noonan said he intended to review the financial and taxation supports and opportunities available to the marine sector.

But this will not cover offshore petroleum exploration and production, as a revised taxation regime for this area has already been determined.