Farmers face weather challenge
More than 1,000 farmers a year across Donegal have benefited in a multi-million euro scheme for low-income farms since 2010.
Figures released by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection revealed that every year an average of 1,306 farmers in the county are getting access to the special Farm Assist means-tested financial support.
Donegal TD Joe McHugh, Minister for Irish, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, said the payments were a lifeline to some parts of rural Donegal.
“The Farm Assist scheme is a vitally important support which is benefitting more than 1,000 farmers in Donegal every year and helping them to keep a farm going and protect rural communities,” Mr McHugh said.
“It shows the Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting and sustaining rural Ireland.”
Nationwide about €74million is budgeted for the Farm Assist scheme this year.
The flexible means test also allows for significant income fluctuations from one year to the next.
Budget 2017 fully reversed the previous cuts to the Farm Assist means test. The changes included that 70% of farm income is now assessed as means, down from 100% being assessed as means.
On top of that there is an additional annual means disregard of €254 for each of the first two children and €381 for the third and subsequent children.
Under the Farm Assist programme applicants are assessed differently than other self-employed persons as payments received under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS), Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) or Special Area of Conservation (SAC) schemes are assessed separately from other farm income.
With regard to this income, the first €2,540 is disregarded, and then 50% of the balance and related expenses are disregarded - with the balance being assessed as means.