Tuesday, 18 May 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
265. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the number of farmers who have applied for the farm assist scheme since it was introduced; the number of farmers who received reduced benefits due to their application; his view on whether the farm assist scheme tackles the problem of low incomes for farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12555/99]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The farm assist scheme came into operation on 7 April 1999. To allow potential claimants sufficient time to submit applications, any person who applies on or before 31 May will have their entitlement backdated to the commencement date of the scheme. To date over 700 new applications have been received and are being processed. Persons in receipt of small holder's unemployment assistance, pre-retirement allowance or disability allowance with means from farming also have the option of applying for farm assist. In the case of existing small holders it is possible that, where a means review has not taken place for a number of years and there has been a change in the person's circumstances, a reduced payment will apply. This can arise in any event as circumstances change and is independent of the introduction of the farm assist scheme.
In view of the fact that new applications are being processed it is not possible at this time to provide details as to the amounts which will be paid. Farm assist is a practical response by the Government to the situation of low income farmers. In bringing forward the start date from the original target of June to early April, the Government recognised the need for an urgent response to the problem in this regard.
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