IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has urged the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar to ensure the reintroduction of income and child disregards is part of the review of Farm Assist, which has been promised in the new Programme for Government.
Joe Brady welcomed the review of Farm Assist and the Rural Social Scheme as both are vital supports for low income farmers. He said, the abolition of the income and child disregards by the previous Minister has had a dramatic effect on the qualification criteria for Farm Assist.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman pointed out that with farm incomes under severe strain across most sectors, it is important that changes are made and the assessment process done in a fair way reflecting the volatility of farm incomes.
In relation to the Rural Social Scheme, Joe Brady pointed out that this scheme is a vital community employment initiative, particularly in areas where job opportunities are limited. IFA has proposed that the number of places on the scheme is doubled from the current level of 2,600. Also, flexibility must be put in place on the eligibility criteria to reach out to other low income farmers and not just those on Farm Assist.
Concluding, Joe Brady said IFA has sought a meeting with the new Minister on Farm Assist, the Rural Social Scheme and PRSI issues.