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 are farming land that you own or lease, for the purpose of husbandry (taking produce from the land).
How to qualify
The means test
takes into account most forms of income, assessed in different ways and disregarding various amounts. If you are receiving payments like the Rural Environment Protection Scheme, property payments, or employment payments, 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 disregards of €254 for each of the first two children, and €381 for any children after that.
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 ask 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 be taken into account.
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 then be subtracted. 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
Payments under the Direct Payment Scheme do not have disregards. However, specified disregards apply to all income received under the following schemes:
the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme
the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme
the Special Area of Conservation
the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme
The first €2,540 per year of payments is disregarded. 50% of the balance is also disregarded. Expenses incurred in complying with the conditions of the above schemes are deducted. The balance is assessed as means.
Income from leasing of land
If you have leased all of your land, you are not eligible for Farm Assist.
However, if you have only leased part of your land, you are still eligible for Farm Assist.
Income from employment
Your income from a job is assessed. Your assessable weekly earnings are usually assessed from the 13 weeks before you claim.
They are your gross earning less:
€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 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
€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 will not be taken into account unless you get an income from it.
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 weekly Farm Assist payment you would be eligible for without means.