Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health today, IFA President Joe Healy led a delegation to discuss what farm families want in the new Fair Deal scheme.
“The IFA supports the Nursing Home Support Scheme and recognises the important role of the scheme in providing financial support and security for people going into long-term nursing home care, as well as their families.”
He continued, “However, it is nearly five years since the Government gave a commitment to introduce changes to remove discrimination against family farms and small business under the scheme. Huge uncertainty and anxiety have been created for family farms, with fear that the viability of the farm will be undermined or lost while attempting to meet the costs of care. This led to the introduction of a three-year cap on farm business assets in circumstances of sudden illness”.
“While we acknowledge the work done by Minister Daly to publish these draft Heads of Bill, with the aim of removing this discrimination, issues still remain.”
“Under the proposed changes, family farms that are leased to third parties are excluded from the three-year cap, as they are classified as an investment asset rather than a productive asset. This is inconsistent with other Government policies, that actively incentivised and encouraged farmers to enter into long-term leases with third parties. Another condition that has not been addressed is clawback on farm assets that have been transferred for less than five years.”
He said, “The Heads of Bill must be revised to guarantee that the three-year cap also applies to farms that are currently leased, as long as the farm is farmed on a commercial basis by one of the following; the farmer, partner, spouse, family successor or leasee.
IFA Farm Family Chair Caroline Farrell said the Government must also honour their commitment and retrospectively apply the three-year cap to July 2018 when it was approved by Cabinet.