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 were now impacting on this low-income group at a time when they are under severe pressure because of the recent bad weather and fodder shortage.
Flor McCarthy said Minister Burton has refused to meet IFA on this matter despite several requests over the past few months, and he called on Fine Gael TDs to take this matter up with the Minister immediately. “Her unfair treatment of farmers in the social welfare system, compared to other low- income working families in society who are eligible for the Family income supplement, is discriminatory.”
He said that the decision to abolish the income and child disregards in the means test, and which came into effect on 1<sup>st</sup> of April, will lead to farmers losing up to 20% of their payment. In addition, low-income farmers will find it harder to qualify in future.
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.