Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, says changes to the Farm Assist scheme will impoverish many more farmers.
Deputy Ó Cuív stated: “Up until last year under the Farm Assist Scheme, 70% of a farmer’s income from farming was assessed as means. There was also an allowance of €127 per annum each for the first two children and an allowance of €190 per annum for the third and subsequent children.
“Over the past two years the Minister has eliminated all these allowances and will now assess farm income on a euro for euro basis. In other words if you earn €200 from farming, the payment will be reduced by €200. This leaves farmers with no benefit for farming and it eliminates all incentives to work small holdings. This is the Government that could not bring itself to increase the USC on those earning €100,000 by 3%, which would have netted €200 million. What we see on the other hand is Minister Burton imposing an effective tax of 100% on small farmers.
“It seems to me that the Governments strategy is to protect the rich and impoverish the poor. For example, over the last two years, a farmer with two children on a farm income of €200 per week will lose nearly €65 per week and a single farmer with no children will lose €60 per week. A farmer with an income of €400 per week from farming and 5 children will lose €133 per week.
“These cuts are on top of other impositions such as cuts to child benefit, the back to school allowance and changes to PRSI. This is yet another attack on rural Ireland by this government. Farmers have had to endure a terrible summer and farm yields have already been badly hit without the added cut to their incomes.”