The Chairperson of the ICMSA’s Farm Business Committee, Mr. Lorcan Mc Cabe, has called on the Minister for Social Protection, Mr. Leo Varadkar, to carry out an immediate review of the Farm Assist Scheme as set out in the Programme for Government. He stated that a key issue which must be addressed in this review is an immediate reversal of cuts to Farm Assist which were applied in successive Budgets which has resulted in farm families most in need of assistance being unable to avail of necessary financial support.
Mr. Mc Cabe stated that these cuts have been a devastating blow to low income farm families that are heavily dependent on Farm Assist payments as a necessary income support during periods of financial difficulty which unfortunately many are experiencing in the current year and which will be more pronounced by year end. Mr. Mc Cabe said “Farm Assist as it is currently assessed is not a viable option for many farm families despite the fact that their income is being decimated due to the extreme down turn in milk price coupled with ever increasing input costs”.
In addition, Mr. Mc Cabe stated that it is imperative the Minister immediately advises Social Welfare Officers that earnings in the previous 12 months are not representative of expected earnings in the current and coming year, given the collapse in farm incomes. Therefore, the current income position of the farm family must form the basis for establishing entitlement to Farm Assist and not income in the previous year.
The ICMSA Farm Business Chairman concluded by calling on the new Minister for Social Protection to immediately revisit these excessive cuts to Farm Assist in order to protect low income farm families that are struggling to survive in the current economic climate.
Ends 20 May 2016
Lorcan McCabe, 086 3979804
Chairperson ICMSA Farm Business Committee
ICMSA Press Office