TAMS at heart of HSI Budget Submission

  • 22 September 2022, 14:35

Rising costs for equine farmers, as well as funding for breeding and production schemes and high performance programs were at the centre of the Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) pre-budget submission in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin. The National Federation for equestrian sport in Ireland met TDs and Senators as they returned from their summer recess, with Chief Executive Denis Duggan outlining the need for increased funding within the sector.

With increases in costs impacting sectors across the country due to the energy crisis and Russian invasion of Ukraine, HSI presented a 10-point plan, with the successor to the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) at the forefront. The plan also highlighted the need for increases in capital investment for equestrian centres, an industry-wide upgrade to e-passports, increased funding for participation grants, as well as an Irish-bred incentive sales voucher.

For 2023, Horse Sport Ireland are seeking an additional once-off top-up payment to assist Irish breeders with the rising costs of fuel, feed and fertilizer as many equine farmers are not in receipt of a basic farm payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.  HSI claim that as many as 11,000 equine farmers of the 27,000 registered Equine Premises may not be in receipt of such payments and therefore not eligible for existing fodder support measures taken by DAFM in 2022. For that reason, and to ensure that the equine industry isn’t faced with fodder shortages or animal welfare issues, Horse Sport Ireland are asking for the creation of a specific Fodder Scheme for non-BPS recipient equine farmers.

Kildare South TD Patricia Ryan with Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan, Head of Sport, Legal and Governance Avalon Everett and Chairman Joe Reynolds at the launch of the HSI pre-Budget submission in Dublin

Mr Duggan said: “With such a huge amount of equine farmers not in receipt of any single farm payment from the Department of Agriculture, and driven by rising costs of feed and fodder, Horse Sport Ireland are calling on Government for a €9m Feed and Fodder scheme for equine farmers to support the substantial rising costs. We want to take every step to avoid a welfare crisis. Over 83% of horses are owned in herds of 10 or less, over 55% in herds of five of less. These equine farmers are the cohort that will need feed and fodder assistance.”

An unprecedented period of success for Irish teams internationally culminated in the recent Aga Khan trophy win at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS. That historic victory followed Olympic qualification for Ireland’s Show Jumpers and European and a World Championships win for our Young Breeders, as well as for Junior and Young Riders in Show Jumping and Eventing at the European Championships. Irish teams across the equestrian disciplines and ages are regularly finishing on the podium at international level and HSI now are hoping for an increase in funding from Sport Ireland to help build on those successes and build to the future.

Mr Duggan said: “Sport Ireland have provided a welcomed investment annually to the High Performance programme. However, the investment does fall short as equestrian sport is so unique, given the horse and rider combination.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae with Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan at the launch of the HSI pre-Budget submission in Dublin

“The financial investments and supports go beyond what a standard investment in a human athlete requires. The holistic connection between the breeder, the owner and the athlete needs support so that a continuous output of Irish horses and Irish riders is achieved. The programmes have achieved success on a modest budget thus far and the ask now is that sizeable investment is made in this area so that both the breeder, in the context of the rural economy, is encouraged to breed the best horses in the world so that our talented athletes have the best possible supports available to showcase Irish equestrian sport and ultimately bring home continuous medal success.”

In 2022 funding for breeding initiatives to improve horse quality is €4.5m. Mr Duggan outlined how additional funding is needed within this grant scheme to just keep pace with inflationary pressures and costs of Brexit on Irish breeders. HSI are seeking €6m for these measures in 2023, rising to €8m in 2024.

“HSI’s recent publication ‘The Business of Breeding 2022’ examined the investment plans of sport horse breeders for the coming three years,” he added. “It identified a plan by the country’s 9,000+ active sport horse breeders to invest €342 million over the next three years in capital projects and supports within the successor to TAMS will be required to ensure that these plans by equine farmers are realised. The report was based on investment sentiment analysis and surveys carried out during June 2022 of sport horse breeders nationwide and was conducted at a time when the challenges of Brexit, climate change and rising inflation were well known. This is a significant and large scale of on-farm investment in equine premises across the country, in every county of the country and is essential for the continual improvement in the quality of horses bred in Ireland.”

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill and Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan with Horse Sport Ireland CEO Denis Duggan at the launch of the HSI pre-Budget submission in Dublin

Mr Duggan continued: “This year, we are actively seeking new funding from Government to establish an Irish-bred Sales Incentive Voucher. This voucher is part of our ask of government to support the international market diversification of Irish horses exported. The UK is our largest market for the export of horses, but with rising costs associated with Brexit related customs, we need to attract buyers from other European markets. HSI are proposing a €10,000 voucher for the winning owner at 100 European shows, for the owner to spend within the next 12 months in an Irish auction house on the purchase of another Irish horse.”

The equestrian governing body is also asking for an increase in funding for the their Integrity and Anti-Doping Programme.

Speaking about the request, Mr Duggan said: “We are fortunate that over 26,000 horses compete in shows around Ireland annually which ensures that we have a very healthy national competition calendar.  To ensure the integrity of the sport, and to go as far as possible to guaranteeing a clean sport, we need financial support to increase the scale of integrity measures, including the anti-doping programme.”

Download a copy of the HSI pre-Budget submission HERE

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