Farm safety is a top priority for the Association and through campaigns such as SAVE LIVES it takes a proactive role in promoting safe work practices. It is the IFA’s position that awareness and education programmes together with supports to improve safety standards on farms are the most effective way to reduce farm accidents.
- Farm safety inspections not linked to cross compliance under the Basic Payment Scheme;
- Occupational Health and Safety to be included as an exam module in University and Agricultural colleges to change farm safety behaviour;
- Introduction of a PTO scrappage scheme to support farmers to replace old PTO shafts with new safer models.
Fair Deal Scheme
While IFA supports and encourages lifetime transfers of farms, the current rules of the Fair Deal scheme can destroy the viability of the family farm business by burdening families with excessive care costs, where the asset has not been transferred or where it has been transferred within the previous 5 years. The key concern for farm families remains the potentially uncapped liability for non-residential farming assets in these circumstances.
- There should be a cap on the maximum percentage charge that can be applied to non-residential assets, in all circumstances. This would provide certainty for farm families and allow them to make the most appropriate decision in meeting the costs of care;
- Where a transfer has been made, but within the previous 5 years, there must be a clear limit set on the percentage of the value of that asset that can be charged against the cost of care of the former owner.
- Clearer guidelines must be issued to determine ‘sudden illness or disability’. The interpretation must also be broadened to include those who have been cared for at home for a relatively short duration, but subsequently require care.
- Government to reinstate income disregards under the Farm Assist scheme which provides a vital support to low income farm families, underpinning production and economic activity.
Rural Social Scheme
- The Rural Social Scheme to be increased from its current number of 2,600 to 4,000 places with flexibility on eligibility criteria to accept low income farmers outside Farm Assist in order to deliver specific community projects.
Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP)
- Low income farmers to be included as a target group for support under SICAP.
Third Level Student Grants
The Government Commissioned report, “Funding Irish Higher Education: A Virtuous Circle of Investment, Quality and Verification”makes a number of new proposals to address the issue of funding at third level, including a new loan scheme and changes to the assessment process for Student Universal Support Ireland SUSI grants. Proposals as outlined would disproportionately affect those from rural and agricultural backgrounds, deter them from applying to college, and widen the gap between urban and rural opportunities.
The sectors impressive performance and associated increased employment opportunities have resulted in a huge surge in enrolment numbers in agricultural and agri food courses.
- Government to ensure equality of access to third level education for low income farm families to fully deliver on the potential and growth opportunities in the sector.
- Any changes to the funding structure for third level education must not result in children from low income farm families being excluded from
accessing third level grants.
Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science
The current development of the Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science specification must result in an industry relevant syllabus which best equips new entrants with appropriate knowledge and skills.
Government must also meet the increased demand for third level places in agricultural courses.
- Provision of the necessary resources to train and upskill teachers who will deliver the new Agricultural Science specification for Leaving Certificate students which is due to be introduced in September 2017;
- Embedding of farm safety principle and practice in all aspects of the new Agricultural Science specification;
- Sufficient places in agricultural colleges to meet demand;
- Means testing for third level grants to continue to be based on taxable income.
Regulation of lobbying
- Simplification and reduction of the compliance burden for registered lobby representatives;
- Access to Leinster House for registered lobbyists, similar to access available in the European Parliament;
- Introduction of similar registration obligations for unregistered groups (who have no employees).