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IFA President Joe Healy said progress on the Fair Deal Scheme is important for farm families who have been waiting nearly five years for the Government to make good on a commitment to remove discrimination against family farms and small business.

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To mark Men’s Health Week (Jun 10th-16th), IFA National Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair Caroline Farrell said a farmers’ health is the most important asset to their farm business and encouraged everyone to make small changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

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IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair Caroline Farrell said that Minister of State for Older People Jim Daly must retrospectively apply the three-year cap on productive farm assets to July 2018, when Cabinet approved the proposal.

“It is encouraging that the Heads of Bill are expected to be drafted by the end of May.  However, this is nearly a year after Minister Daly promised that the Heads of Bill would be brought before the Oireachtas,” she said.

Caroline Farrell pointed out that this means the Nursing Home Support Scheme legislation will not be amended until the end of the year, at the earliest, and won’t be operational until at least mid- 2020.

“This is nearly five years after the Government gave a commitment to introduce changes as soon as practicable to remove discrimination against family farms and small business under the Fair Deal scheme”, said Mrs. Farrell.

“The Government must honour their commitment and retrospectively apply the three-year cap to July 2018 when it was approved by Cabinet.”

She said that the Heads of Bill must guarantee that the three-year cap also applies to farms that are currently leased, but where a family successor gives a verified commitment that they would continue to farm the asset, for a period of six years.

IFA President Joe Healy has encouraged farm families to attend and support ‘Let’s Talk and Walk’ forest walks organised by IFA in partnership with See Change, Coillte, and Mental Health Ireland in support of the Green Ribbon campaign for the month of May.

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IFA President Joe Healy said the Government has abandoned farm families by failing to implement the three-year cap on farm assets under the financial assessment of the Fair Deal scheme. The Government has been promising this would be introduced since last July.

Addressing farmers at the Dept of Health today, he said it is now nearly nine months since Cabinet approved the proposal to introduce a three-year cap on farm and small businesses assets, where a family successor commits to continue to farm the asset for a period of six years.

The IFA President said, “Farm families are beyond frustrated with the delays.  When Minister Daly announced last July that he had Cabinet approval to introduce a cap and that he would be progressing the matter in the Oireachtas in the autumn session, we thought we had reached the finish line.  Unfortunately, that was not the case and we find ourselves here today.”

IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair Caroline Farrell said the ongoing delays are causing huge uncertainty and distress for farm families and are jeopardising the viability of the farms affected for future generations.

“In the time since Cabinet approved the proposal, it has cost individual farm families an estimated €40,000 in nursing home costs,” she said.

She said what is most upsetting is that the delays are having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable of farm families, whose farms will be unviable unless the Minister acts now.

IFA is calling for the:

  • The changes to be introduced without any further delay and retrospectively applied to July when the Cabinet approved proposal for new and existing farmers availing of the Fair Deal scheme.
  • The three-year cap must also be applied to farms that are currently leased, but where a family successor gives a verified commitment that they would continue to farm the asset for a period of six years.

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