IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the changes in the Budget by the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton for the means test for Farm Assist was a direct attack on the most vulnerable group of farmers, and will impact severely on 11,000 low-income families who are very dependent on the payment.
An IFA delegation will attend this evening’s Dail debate on the Social Welfare elements of the Budget. “The Minister has inflicted a deeply unfair cut on low-income farm families, as it does not apply to other families who qualify for Family Income Supplement. The cuts to farm schemes will impact most heavily on the same households in receipt of Farm Assist. For them to be targeted for additional cuts is entirely disproportionate and indefensible. The Minister must restore the eligibility rules for families to qualify for Farm Assist.”
Flor McCarthy said that the decision to abolish the income and child disregards in the means test will lead to farmers losing up to 20% of their payment. In addition low-income farmers in future will find it harder to qualify.
A farmer with two children with a farm income of €15,000 per annum could see their Farm Assist payment drop by €2,555 per annum, or €49 per week.
He pointed out that a married farmer with no children, whose spouse is not working off-farm and with a farm income of €10,000, will see their Farm Assist payment reduce from €7,765 per annum or €149.32 weekly to €6,265 per annum or €120.50 per week.
Mr McCarthy warned that unless there are changes made to this budget decision many farmers will be in a dire situation. He called on Government TDs to defend low-income farmers.