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For Oral Answer on : 17/05/2022
Question Number(s): 80,85 Question Reference(s): 24565/22, 24590/22
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


* To ask the Minister for Social Protection the measures being taken by her Department to support low income farmers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 17 May, 2022.

* To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the recommendations of her Department in the technical review of the farm assist scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 17 May, 2022.


Farm Assist is a statutory income support specifically for farmers on low-incomes.  There are approximately 4,800 claims in payment at present.  The Government has provided €53.9 million for the scheme for 2022.

The means assessment under Farm Assist is generous when compared with the means test applied under Jobseeker’s Allowance for other self-employed individuals.  Farmers also retain the advantages of jobseekers such as access to activation programmes.

Further to the commitment in the Programme for Government and in the Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, my Department recently reviewed the means assessment disregards for the Farm Assist.  The report is available on my Department’s website.

One of the key recommendations of the report was to provide for an extensive expansion to the list of agri-environmental schemes that qualify for a disregard. I introduced this measure as part of the Social Welfare Act 2022 and it will be implemented from next month, June 2022, four months earlier than had been previously announced.

If a farmer is in receipt of one of these grants at the average payment of €2,132, this measure could provide for a weekly increase in their Farm Assist of up to €28.70 depending on their individual circumstances.

The other recommendations in the report, which include increases in the capital disregard and income disregarded from off-farm earnings, would have to be considered as part of the budgetary process.

I have also agreed to carry out a review of how income from land leased out by farmers is treated in the means assessments for the State Non-Contributory Pension and the Farm Assist scheme.  This is being progressed within my Department.

In addition, Budget 2022 introduced a targeted package of social protection supports, including a €5 weekly increase on standard weekly social welfare rates, increases to the Qualified Child Payment rates and the Fuel Allowance.

I trust this clarifies the position.