IFA ‘receives clarification’ on Covid-19 payment for farmers

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that it has received clarification from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on farmer eligibility for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Caroline Farrell, the association’s farm family and social affairs chairperson, said that the department had confirmed that a farmer who has incurred a substantial loss of income as a result of restrictions can qualify for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

“This means that full-time farmers who cannot sell their stock and therefore have no income can claim the payment. Part-time farmers who have lost off-farm employment and who have suffered a substantial loss of income can also qualify,” Farrell said.

The IFA claims that the department gave the following clarifications on who is entitled to the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment:

  • Full-time farmers who have ceased trading (i.e. unable to sell or buy animals, crops or other produce) as a result of the pandemic are entitled to the €350-a-week payment (according to the IFA);
  • Part-time farmers who have lost off-farm employment as a result of the pandemic are also entitled to the payment;
  • A farmer in receipt of Farm Assist payments is not entitled to the payment. However, if the farmer’s income has deteriorated as a result of restrictions or loss of income, the can seek a reassessment of the Farm Assist payment;
  • A farmer in receipt of Rural Social Scheme payments is not entitled to the Covid-19 payment, but the existing payment is maintained;
  • A farmer and/or spouse in receipt of Carers Allowance and Carers Benefit – including those who are working fewer than 18 hours per week – and who have ‘ceased trading’ or lost their employment, can claim the Covid-19 payment;
  • A farmer in receipt of Disability Allowance that has ‘ceased trading’ or lost employment is entitled to the payment. The payment will be adjusted to take account of the Disability Allowance payment.

“We have been receiving numerous calls from full and part-time farmers who were getting different messages regarding the eligibility, even from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is important to clarify,” Farrell said.

She encouraged cattle and beef farmers who are not in a position to sell stock to apply for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Farrell also called for the reassessment of Farm Assist payments to “be rapid and to reflect the the current income position”.