Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has heavily criticised the Social Protection Minister for completely failing to understand the Farm Assist Scheme and the Rural Social Scheme.
He commented: “The Farm Assist Scheme was supposed to be similar to family income supplement, which would serve to supplement the income of farmers on low earnings. However, the Minister has changed the scheme to ensure that farmers on the Farm Assist Scheme are literally not allowed retain any profits from their farms.”
Deputy Ó Cuív added that this is a totally retrograde approach and discourages farmers from improving their situation.
“It places a dead hand on any initiative that a farmer might take. The Minister’s total lack of understanding of the requirements of rural communities also extends to the Rural Social Scheme which she is now trying to transfer and change into an activation scheme, rather than a scheme of community work for low income farmers.
“Minister Burton fails to understand that low income farmers are not unemployed and, therefore, in many cases would find it impossible to hold down a full time job along with their farming duties. The Rural Social Scheme ensures both an adequate income for farmers on low earnings and vital social services in the community.
“The Minister’s lack of vision in relation to this matter and understanding of the social good being done by this scheme is breath-taking, as is the failure of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to impress on her not to dismantle very important supports for small farmers in the country.”