Cork North West TD Michael Moynihan says he’s deeply concerned about changes in criteria for the Farm Assist scheme. The numbers eligible for the payment have fallen to under 10,000 this year from more than 14,000 in 2006.
“These figures are extremely worrying and are an indication of the Government’s lack of commitment to small family farmers. Farms across the county have been deemed ineligible since changes to the scheme were brought in. Recent figures reveal that only 806 farmers in Cork are receiving the payment this year, that’s a 13% reduction from 2012. Not only is the number of payments falling but the amount that each farmer is receiving has also dropped, with total payments now below €100 million for the first time in over five years”, commented Deputy Moynihan.
“These changes were introduced by Minister Joan Burton in Budget 2013 and are the most recent attack on the farming community by this Government. Farmers are already dealing with cuts to supports, cuts to prices and increased operating costs, and now they’re being subjected to harsher means tests to qualify for the Farm Assist scheme.
“Farmers are already facing huge challenges to keep their farms viable and these changes will do nothing to encourage them to stay in the industry. Farmers were assessed based on 70% of their means, but under the new changes brought in by Minister Burton, that assessment has been increased to 100% of means.
“These changes to key farming supports have been made by a Dublin-based Minister without any understanding of how the cuts will affect thousands of small family farms across the country. These changes will have knock on effects for the local communities and the agriculture sector as a whole.
“This move is just the latest example of this Dublin focused Government implementing ruthless cuts on the farming industry. Ministers need to start standing up for the small family farm or risk the possibility of seeing the sector eradicated”.