IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy has accused the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton of hounding farmers on Farm Assist with new and more rigorous means testing. The assessment is failing to take account of the volatility in farm incomes resulting in farmers’ payments having been cut back or removed totally.
Flor McCarthy said that the Department of Social Protection had introduced this reassessment procedure without any consultation. The new form that farmers are being asked to fill out is more onerous and is not taking account of the costs associated with farming. He is now calling on Minister Burton to withdraw this flawed assessment document.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that Farm Assist is a vital support to low income farmers. Currently, around 10,000 farmers receive support worth €95m from the scheme. The scheme has suffered over the last number of years when the income disregards were removed in the 2011 and 2012 Budgets.
Flor McCarthy said, “The scheme must be capable of dealing with the changing farm income environment and the means test must be done a fair and accurate way”.
IFA has sought an urgent meeting on this issue so that when the assessment is done, the farmer is confident that it takes account of the overall situation on the farm.