Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has urged the Government to reconsider its plan to include farm assets in means testing for Third Level Grants.
Reports today suggest that the Minister for Education will proceed with plans to include farm and business assets as part of their assessment criteria for Third Level Grants.
Deputy Ó Cuív commented: “I find it hugely disappointing that the Minister plans to forge ahead with these plans despite huge opposition within and outside the Government. Eligibility for the grant should be solely judged on income and it is discriminatory to use agricultural lands as part of the assessment criteria.
“Under the current grant application system, all farm income is assessed. If the Government goes ahead and assesses the value of farmland as an income source on its own, this would be hugely unfair and amount to double assessment on the same land.
“This would result in a further cut to student grants targeted at farming and self-employed families. It will put many farming families in a position where they must decide whether or not to sell some of their land, which may not be generating income, in order to fund college for their children.
“We are completely opposed to this as it would act as a further deterrent to third level education at a time when education is so important to our economic recovery.
“There should not be separate rules for farmers and everyone else. The double assessment for farmers is wrong, discriminatory and will be strongly resisted by Fianna Fáil.”