According to the opinion poll, 59% of respondents were in favour of increased spending rather than tax cuts, while just 17% disagreed with another 24% having no opinion either way. Of those in favour of more government spending, 38% slightly agree and 21% strongly agree.
The poll results show that while two thirds of farmers who do not have an off-farm job back more spending over job cuts, just 52% of those with an off-farm income feel the same way.
Women were also more likely to favour increased spending (67%) than men (57%), and while more than half of respondents involved in tillage and livestock back spending over tax cuts, that level of support is lower than among their counterparts involved in dairy and other farming activities. Support for more spending rather than tax cuts was also most marked among those aged 65 and over, at 64%.
Regionally, support levels fluctuated, from 70% among respondents at Kilkenny show and 74% from those questioned at Tipperary Show, down to 37% from those polled in Virginia in Co Cavan.
The president of the ICMSA, John Comer, said of the three-to-one ratio in favour of increased Budget spending: “It would seem to put the farmers surveyed at variance with the intentions expressed by the Taoiseach as recently as this month when he again signalled that middle-income earners will be given a tax cut.
“We can assume that farmers, in common with very many other groups, might be feeling that given the scale of challenges like housing and health. it might be wiser to forego what are likely to be small tax cuts in favour of increasing the funds the state has available.
“Very few people like paying tax — but perhaps we’re seeing a decision by the farmer respondents that a concerted effort to tackle these problems is preferable to what will end up being just a few euro extra per week in the pockets of taxpayers.”