Commenting on the social protection package announced in Budget 2017 for farmers, Lorcan McCabe, Chairperson of ICMSA Farm Business Committee, said that they will be a broad welcome from farmers in relation to the package and it has to be acknowledged that many of the concerns raised by groups like his own have been addressed.
Mr. McCabe said that ICMSA had met with the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, last week and had put forward a number of proposals to the Minister designed to alleviate the income pressures on Irish farms as well as acknowledging the dangers of farming life today and certain of the announcements in Budget 2017 certainly indicated that the Minister has taken a number of these proposals on board.
The changes announced to Farm Assist in terms of re-introduced Income Disregards and Child Disregards will mean that farmers who have very low incomes will now qualify for an improved level of payment that both reflects their low income and permits them to hopefully farm their way out of financial difficulties. The 500 additional places in the Rural Social Scheme will benefit both the farm families concerned and the rural communities in which they work and live as well as combating rural isolation and thus must be welcomed.
But it was on the issue of the extension of the Invalidity Pension to self-employed people, including farmers, that Mr McCabe was most appreciative. Describing it as a positive and constructive decision, he noted that farm accidents and fatalities are too frequent a very unfortunate event that required addressing. In the past, noted the ICMSA Chairperson, some farmers who had suffered severe career changing injuries found that there was zero support from the state and yesterday’s decision means that in the dire circumstances where a farmer has to give up work due to an accident, there will be support under the social protection system to the same extent as was offered to other sectors of society.
This was an overdue and especially welcome change said Mr. McCabe, who said that ICMSA will continue to work with the Department that will hopefully bring further improvements in future Budgets.
Ends 12 October 2016.
Lorcan McCabe, 086-3979804
Chairperson, ICMSA Farm Business Committee
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office