Farm families ‘waiting with bated breath’ for Fair Deal scheme due to be in place by summer

Many farm families are “waiting with bated breath” to see what new Fair Deal legislation will be introduced according to deputy Cathal Crowe, but Minister Charlie McConalogue has said the wait may be soon over.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, the minister said the bill is due to come before the Dáil this term, and the “objective is to have it in place and operational by summertime”.

According to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the new Fair Deal (Nursing Homes Support Scheme [Amendment] Bill) aims to provide “additional safeguards for future generations of family farmers and business owners”.

He told deputy Seán Canney last month that the purpose of the amendment will be “to cap contributions based on farm and business assets at three years where a family successor commits to working the productive asset”.

Under the scheme, applicants can apply for financial support to help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home.

Applicants can choose to pay privately for care while waiting for funding, however, Fair Deal funding can’t be backdated and will only be paid from the date of approval.

A financial assessment will calculate how much someone will pay towards the cost of nursing home care. This amount depends on income and assets, such as the family home or land.

New agri-environment scheme

Deputy Cathal Crowe also asked Minister McConalogue in the Dáil this week for the latest on the pilot for the proposed new agri-environment scheme for farmers not in GLAS (Green, Low-Carbon, Agri Environment Scheme).

The consultation on the new scheme is closing soon on February 26 and, as of this week, there have been 1,000 replies to the consultation.

“I would encourage all farmers to engage and give their views to help inform the nature of the scheme and ensure it is as practical as possible for farmers to implement, while also ensuring that we have output at the end of it for achieving the environmental objectives of the scheme,” the minister added.