Eamonn Tinney Jnr, president, made the observation in his address to the annual general meeting of the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA). Sales value of the farm machinery industry in Ireland is over €450 million annually.
Mr Tinney said the collapse of the construction sector, which had become a substantial market for traders, has presented difficulties. “Unfortunately, this has coincided with a period in which all areas of our core market, agriculture, are under immense pressure.
“The drop in agricultural commodity prices when combined with the rapid decline in opportunities for off-farm income has reduced the purchasing power of our customers,” he said. Mr Tinney said the continued weakness of sterling against the euro had brought with it a dramatic increase in the level of imports of used machinery from Britain and in particular from the North. “This has resulted in a situation where often the only way to get a sale is at substantial discounts to the purchase price, a serious threat to the profitability of many farm machinery businesses.”
On the issue of the high standard VAT rate, particularly when compared with Britain, he said the farm machinery industry is at a unique disadvantage in the context of what is effectively a business to business market.
“We were disappointed... the minister for finance failed in the recent emergency budget to take steps to make some changes in this area.”
Mr Tinney said another issue relates to the non-payment of VAT on machinery imported from Britain by non-VAT registered individuals.
“It is well known some people when buying machinery in Britain are claiming to be VAT registered in Ireland and are using Irish VAT numbers that are not theirs or that are simply bogus,” he said. Mr Tinney urged Revenue to stamp out such activities.