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What Farm Assist is

Farm Assist is a means-tested payment for low-income farmers. There is a similar social welfare payment for fishermen and women called Fish Assist. Fish Assist is not a separate scheme, it comes under Jobseeker's Allowance.

To qualify for Farm Assist, you must:

  • be a farmer in the State
  • aged between 18 and 66
  • satisfy a means test

You are considered a farmer if you farm land that you own or lease, for the purpose of husbandry (taking produce from the land).

How to qualify

The means test accounts most forms of income, assessed in different ways and disregarding various amounts. If you are receiving payments like the Rural Environmental Protection, through property payments, or through employment, different rules apply.

Farm income and other income from self-employment

Farm income and income from off-farm self-employment is assessed at 70% (previously 100%). There are additional annual disregards of €254 for both of the first two children. After having a third child, this is increased €381.

These are applied first and 70% of the balance is assessed.

Farming income is assessed as gross income that you, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may be expected to receive minus any expenses. Income over the past 12 months will be used to assess your likely future earnings. As farmers may have significant variations in income from year to year, there will be some leeway in this prediction.

A social welfare inspector will meet with you. They will request to see proof of income and expenses. This could include accounts prepared for tax purposes, creamery returns, sale of produce, etc. Costs such as rents, depreciation, labour and necessities like feed or fertiliser will also be assessed.

Any income from self-employment, either your own or your partners, will also be assessed.

The various incomes will be added together, and the expenses will be subtracted from that. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation. You may be liable to pay Class S contributions on your income from self-employment.

Income from farm schemes and direct payments

Under the Direct Payment system, a farmer’s payment can be a combination of payments under 4 separate schemes:

  • the Basic Payment Scheme
  • the Greening Payment
  • the Young Farmer’s Scheme
  • Aid for Protein Crops

The first €2,540 per year of payments is disregarded. 50% of the balance is also disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with these measures are deducted. The balance is assessed as means.

Payments under:

  • the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme
  • the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme
  • the Special Area of Conservation
  • the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme

are treated in the same way and the same disregards apply.

Income from leasing of land

If you have leased all of your land, you are not eligible for Farm Assist.

However, if you only leased part of your land, you are still eligible for Farm Assist. Any income from this is assessed in full, but not included in the assessment of income.

Income from employment

Your income from a job is assessed. Your assessable weekly earnings, including:

  • gross income less PRSI
  • union dues
  • superannuation fees

are usually assessed from the 13 weeks before you claim.

€20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings. 60% of the balance is then assessed as weekly means. Your partner's employment income is assessed in the same way.

Any income from an occupational pension is assessed in full. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.

People who were getting Farm Assist before 26 September 2007 and who were still in payment on 26 September 2007 may be assessed differently.

Capital

Capital income includes property, savings and investments. Any property you own but are not personally using, investments or any other form of capital, will be assessed. You may or may not be getting an income from the property or investment.

The value of capital is assessed as follows:

  • disregard the first €20,000
  • the next €20,000 to €30,000 is assessed at €1 for every €1,000
  • the next €10,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000
  • anything more than €40,000 is assessed at €4 per €1,000

The assessment only applies to units of €1,000. Capital income should be rounded down to the nearest €1,000.

For example, if you have €38,400 in the bank:

  • €20,000 will be disregarded
  • €10,000 will be assessed at €1 per €1,000 (€10)
  • the remaining €8,000 is assessed at €2 per €1,000, (€16)

Your income from €38,400 capital is €26 per week.

Property you do not use

If you don't use your farm and have no income from it, it is still considered capital, and its value will be assessed.

Your home

Your home will not be taken into account unless you get an income from it.

Total means

Your income from all these different sources will be added together to get your total weekly means.

Once this has been calculated, you will be paid the difference between your weekly means and the Farm Assist you would be eligible for without those means.

Rates of payment

    Rates Weekly rates from 20 March 2019
    Farm Assist Maximum weekly rate
    Personal rate €203
    Qualified adult €134.70
    Qualified child (under 12) €34.00 (full-rate), €17.00 (half-rate)
    Qualified Child (12 and over) €37.00 (Full rate), €18.50 (half rate)

An increase is payable for each child dependant if you are also claiming payments for the care of a qualified adult. If you are not receiving such a payment, you may get a half-rate increase for a qualified child dependant.

Apply

Download and complete form Farm 1 at the bottom of this page and return this form to your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

You can appeal a decision if you disagree with it. You should appeal with 21 days of the decision and you can ask for an oral hearing. An appeals officer will then hear your case.

Their decision is final.

If new information comes to light or your circumstances change, you can apply for Farm Assist again.

If you have further questions about Farm Assist contact your nearest Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

Farm Assist Application Form

Download

Operational Guidelines