IFA President John Bryan has re-iterated IFA’s outright opposition to any attempt to include productive assets in the assessment, saying the model proposed by the Minister is deeply flawed and will make it even more difficult for children from low-income farm families to get to college.
“The proposed threshold of €750,000 would buy a 75-acre farm, and in some parts of the country a smaller holding than that. Depending on location, soil type and enterprise, it is ludicrous to suggest that every farm makes an income of over €40,000. Whatever model was used to arrive at this, it bears no relation to reality. Equally, the implied income figures for any farm with a valuation over this threshold do not stand up to scrutiny.”
The IFA President said, “Minister Quinn has given us an assurance in the past that he did not want to see the children of farm families deprived of the opportunity to attend third-level. However, if he proceeds with this proposal, then he will certainly deny them that chance. IFA will mount a vigorous campaign to ensure that farm families are not put at a disadvantage”.
John Bryan said, “The existing method of assessment of self-employed income for the maintenance grant already disallows a number of expenses that are included in income tax computation. To include productive assets in the maintenance grant assessment would further discriminate against the self-employed, including farmers. These assets are required by self-employed businesses to generate income, and are not a measure of additional ability to pay”.
Concluding, he said, “The introduction of an asset test that includes productive assets, such as farmland, will deny access to higher education to many students from low-income self-employed families. This will not be tolerated by IFA”.