Low income farmers could be nearly €100 per week worse off after last week’s budget.
The major impact on them is the abolition of Farm Assist income and child disregards, hitting more than 11,000 current recipients for this means-tested income support scheme.
A married farmer with two dependent children on farm income of €300/week will see the Farm Assist payment reduce from €121.55 to €72.40/week, according to IFA.
The Government will save €5m in the scheme’s budget, costing each participant €360 per year on average.
IFA president John Bryan said, “In many cases, these farmers will also take the hit on the farm schemes, which underlines the disproportionate and unfair nature of what the minister has done.”
He said the funding cut for dairy discussion groups is another retrograde step.
It is the latest in a series of Farm Assist cuts over the past year, according to Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív. “For example, a farmer with four kids who has a farm income of €200 will have lost €72 a week from his Farm Assist payments over the last two years. Someone with a farm income of €400 a week with four children will have lost €132. Even a single farmer on €100 a week with no kids would still have lost €30 of that per week.”
Many Farm Assist recipients may also suffer cuts to disadvantaged area and sheep grassland payments. The maximum for disadvantaged payments is reduced by as much as €383, and a 22% budget cut in sheep grassland payments is likely to cost more than €2 per ewe.
The property tax and extra PRSI will cost all farmers more than €6 per week. All farmers will also be hit by the €18m annual reduction in their general VAT refund, which compensates unregistered farmers for VAT charges on their farm input purchases. The refund on all sales is cut from 5.2% to 4.8%. A 30-cow dairy farmer with total sales of €75,000 will lose €300. A 100-cow farmer will lose €1,000.
The ending of the five-year suckler welfare scheme has reduced earnings in a 40-cow herd by at least €1,200.
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