Monthly Archives: June 2017

Excellence in Irish Beef Production

A passion for livestock inspired Thomas Halpin to follow his father into farming. And it’s a passion that has served the County Meath farmer well, as he’s transformed his farm by introducing efficiencies and increasing output. From improving grass management to introducing a closed herd system, Thomas shares his insights into driving efficiencies with the help of AIB Farm Finance and reflects on The Big Picture for beef farming in Ireland today.

Read on to see how Thomas makes the most of his farm.

Planning for the Future

“I took over the family farm in the mid ‘90s and was fortunate that my dad gave me the opportunity to do so. And it’s evolved since then,” Thomas explains. “Originally it was sheep and store to beef and as circumstances changed, we started developing a suckler herd here bringing all the progeny to beef.”

“We felt we needed to drive the farm on. We had a young family coming through. We had to maximise what we had,” he adds. “The idea behind it was to raise output – particularly through grass – and there was a lot of work to be done to get us into a situation to achieve that.”

As part of the transformation, Thomas took part in the Teagasc Better Farm Programme and brought in new processes. And with the farm continuing to develop, he is optimistic about the unique appeal Irish beef has to offer consumers.

“The big picture for Irish beef farming over the next few years is that I think there is a great story to be told,” he notes. “It’s a very challenging business, the beef business, there’s no doubt about it. Markets can vary and prices are a constant source of battle.”

“But I think if we produce beef as efficiently as we can and markets can provide a positive return for us, there is a future there. We produce a great product, it’s fully traceable and it’s grass based. I think there is a great selling point there. Hopefully those markets can be found to pay a premium price for a premium product.”

Expanding the Herd

Passionate about livestock since his initial introduction to farming, Thomas has focused on efficiently developing the herd over the past number of years – a process that has included the adoption of a closed herd system.

“When we started, we had approximately 60 suckler cows,” he explains. “We now have 100 on the farm. We’d hope to increase that a little bit if we can. It’s a closed herd here – by that I mean we breed our own replacements. We only use limited AI. We use stock bulls running with the herd. It’s probably slower in so far as you’re breeding from within. But we feel long-term, we have better control over the genetics.”

With three stock bulls, each offers unique traits to the herd and its development. “We use three different stock bulls,” Thomas explains. “We have a Charlie bull, predominantly for beef production. We use a Simmental bull with high maternal traits and his progeny is used for breeding. Then we use a Limousin bull for easy calving for first time heifers.”

“There is split calving here on the farm, we calve in February and March, we also calve in June and July. That increases the groups of stock on the farm but is easier to manage. We chose to have two separate calving dates from a labour point of view and from a health point of view, so we’ve not calving all at one time and we’re reducing the risk of an outbreak of disease.”

Agile working gives you a chance to eliminate the barriers

Agile working is about taking ownership of your work and accepting accountability to your team, so that you care about delivering to a high standard.

Agile working gives you a chance to eliminate the barriers to getting work done efficiently. One of these barriers is your well-being. If your work schedule doesn’t click with the rest of your life, then you won’t produce your best work, and you won’t find meaning in your job.

Maybe your commute is killing you, or you’d like to be closer to home. Perhaps you could contribute more to your team if you were mobile but you don’t know how to ask your boss to let you work remotely.

One reason to work remotely is the prominence of co-working spaces, which are state-of-the-art facilities purpose built for you to get your work done. With hot desks, meeting rooms and fast internet you have everything you would get in a normal office, and probably more.

Some employers may argue that allowing their staff to operate away from the office will lead to less productivity and less communication, but this is no longer the case thanks to video conferencing technology.

Video conferencing means that you are only a click away from connecting with your colleagues. You can hit them up with regular updates and questions whenever you need – and advanced conferencing systems like Cisco mean that you can share files, collaborate and be productive as well. Companies like BAUER, and Nter One incorporate video meetings as part of their daily business, and it’s easy to see why.

  • 100% of those who use video in meetings say it supports new ideas and new ways to innovate
  • Companies that adopted video in meetings outgrew those that did not by 300%
  • 75% of businesses that meet with video report that it improves collaboration and increases productivity across dispersed teams
  • With video, 73% of meetings end faster and with better results, and 94% of people who use it say it increases meeting efficiency and productivity
  • 94% of those who use video in meetings say it contributes to business growth

Ensures increased investment in our national

10 October 2017 saw the unveiling of the second Budget of the 32nd Dáil.  Delivering his first Budget, Minister Donohoe said the Budget “achieves sustainable and affordable tax reform, delivers improvements in services and ensures increased investment in our national infrastructure”. Thomas Sheerin, Tax Director at KPMG in Ireland, outlines some of the elements affecting SMEs.

1. Income Tax, Earned Income Tax Credit for Self-employed and USC Changes

The point at which an individual attracts the higher 40% income tax rate has increased by €750.  Therefore, for a single person the first €34,550 of income will be taxable at the 20% rate.  The first €43,550 will be taxable at the 20% rate in the case of a married person (one earner).

The Minister announced an increase of €200 in the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,150 for 2018.  This credit is available to self-employed individuals who cannot benefit from the PAYE tax credit of €1,650 that is available to employees.

The entry point for the USC remains at €13,000.  However, the 2.5% rate is to reduce to 2% and the ceiling for this new rate is increased from €18,772 to €19,273.  This change ensures that full-time workers on the minimum wage do not pay the upper USC rates.  The 5% USC rate is also to reduce to 4.75% thereby reducing the top marginal rate of tax on income up to €70,044 to 48.75%.

2. Share-based remuneration

Following a public consultation and review of share-based remuneration that took place last year, a new incentive called Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) is being introduced.  KEEP is to facilitate the use of share-based remuneration by unquoted SME companies to attract and retain key employees.  Gains arising to employees on the exercise of KEEP share options will be liable to Capital Gains Tax on the disposal of the shares.  At present, such gains on the exercise of options are subject to income tax, USC and PRSI.  This incentive will be available for qualifying share options granted after 1 January 2018.

3. Retailers and Tourism

The Minister confirmed that the reduced 9% VAT rate for tourism and related activities will continue to apply.

The old reliable excise duty on tobacco is to increase by 50 cents on a pack of 20 cigarettes with a pro-rata increase on other tobacco products.

4. Construction and Property

The rate of stamp duty on commercial property transactions is to increase from 2% to 6% with effect from midnight tonight.  However, a stamp duty refund scheme will be introduced for commercial land purchased for the development of housing, provided the relevant development commences within 30 months of the land purchase – further details to follow in the Finance Bill.

Funds of €750 million are to be made available to a new vehicle, Home Building Finance Ireland for commercial investment in housing finance.  This vehicle will increase the availability of debt on market terms to commercially viable residential development projects whose land owners want to build homes.

The holding period to qualify for the exemption from Capital Gains Tax for certain land and buildings will be reduced from 7 years to 4 years.  The exemption is available on the disposal of certain land and buildings that were acquired between 7 December 2011 and 31 December 2014.  Further details to follow in the Finance Bill which should be examined clearly.

The Minister announced an increase from 3% to 7% in the vacant site levy that applies to the second and subsequent years.  An owner of a vacant site on the register who does not develop the land in 2018 will pay the 3% levy in 2018 and the increased 7% levy from 1 January 2019.

Finance Act 2016 introduced the Help to Buy scheme for first time buyers of new houses that take out a mortgage of at least 80% of the purchase price.  No changes to this scheme were announced in the Budget.