‘1,000 farmers lose Farm Assist over changes’

Changes in means testing for Farm Assist  has meant more than 1,000 farmers have had their benefits taken from them in the past two years. This is according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív.

On foot of recent figures, Deputy Ó Cuív said it is now clear that the number of farmers in receipt of Farm Assist has been reduced by 10 per cent due to the change in the means testing in the past two budgets.

“During the term of the previous Government, an arrangement had been arrived at, whereby only 70 per cent of a farmer’s income was assessed as means under the Farm Assist Scheme, with a special allowance being available for any child dependents.

“In the last two budgets, Minister Joan Burton has changed the system of means testing farmers in receipt of Farm Assist and now 100 per cent of the farm income is assessed, meaning that it is not worth a farmer’s while continuing to farm if they need the payment.

“This hits the poorest of farmers, many of whom are on very small farms or on marginal land and cannot survive from farm employment. This Government talks about incentive, but in fact what they are doing is killing all incentive to produce. The fact that farmers continue to farm under these circumstances shows their attachment to the industry.”

 Deputy Ó Cuív is calling for a reinstatement of the previous system.