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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farm Assist: Income threshold change to benefit ‘thousands’ of farmers

Changes to Farm Assist Means Test

The Department of Social Protection has introduced what Minister Heather Humphreys has described as “major” changes to the Farm Assist Means Test.

She has signed regulations, relating to the means-tested payment for low-income farmers, which she believes, will benefit thousands.

She has introduced a new income disregard which will ensure farmers who avail of agri-environmental schemes will not see their social welfare payments impacted.

As a result of these changes, the department will apply an income disregard to its:

  • Farm Assist;
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance;
  • State (Non-Contributory) Pensions.
Income disregard

The government hopes that introducing an income disregard under these schemes will incentivise more farmers to participate, in line with its climate change objectives.

Grants under these agricultural schemes benefit from the maximum disregard of €2,450, with the remaining balance assessed at 50%.

For example, a farmer who receives a grant of €2,000 would not see their social welfare payment impacted whatsoever.

Agri-environmental scheme

The Department of Social Protection has published an expanded list of schemes that will attract an income disregard. It says that existing recipients and new applicants will benefit from this measure.

The 22 agri-environmental schemes that attract an income disregard are:

  • Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS);
  • Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS);
  • Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme;
  • Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM);
  • Beef Data and Genomics Programme;
  • Beef Environmental Efficiency Plan (BEEP-S) as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme;
  • Dairy Beef Calf Programme as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme;
  • Results-Basedsed Environment Agri-Pilot Programme (REAP;
  • Sheep Welfare Scheme;
  • Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme, including agroforestry grants and forestry for fibre;
  • Ash Dieback Replanting Scheme;
  • Creation of Woodland on Public Lands Scheme;
  • Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme;
  • Forestry Grants and Premium Schemes (2014 – 2020);
  • Forest Genetic Resources Reproductive Material Scheme;
  • Forest Road Scheme;
  • Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group Scheme;
  • Innovative Forestry Forest Technology: Central tyre inflation scheme module;
  • Native Woodland Conservation Scheme;
  • Neighbour Wood Scheme;
  • Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (Ash Dieback);
  • Woodland Improvement Scheme including Continuous Forestry Cover.
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