New data released by the Revenue Commissioners recently showed the number of long term land leases rising 14% to 9,790, in 2017, at a cost to the exchequer of €23.7m.
The cost arises from tax incentives for long term leasing, increased in the budget for 2015 to the point where a landowner getting €18,000 in land leasing income gets tax relief on this income. The number of farmers claiming this incentive increased from 3,960 in 2012, under the previous incentive scheme, to 8,490 in 2016, and 9,790 in 2017.
Increased long term leasing, in preference to the 11- month conacre system, has been generally welcomed in farming circles, not least because of the potential for improved productivity. It was argued, for example, that those with long term leased land would be more likely to apply lime, to make the land more productive.
In that context, there is disappointing data from the National Farm Survey on the volume of lime applied. It indicates the proportion of farmers applying lime fell steadily from 24% of the total in 2014 to 19% in 2018.
The estimated volume of lime applied was 20% less in 2018 than in 2014. The decline was steady from year to year, except for a small increase in 2016.