Supports For Farmers: A To Z Of Schemes For Farmers In New Booklet

The Citizens Information service has joined with Teagasc to publish a Supports for Farmers booklet, an up-to-date overview of available entitlements and services.

 

On the Teagasc stand at the Ploughing Championships for the launch of the ‘Supports for Farmers’ booklet, from left, Barry Caslin, Teagasc; Damien O’Reilly, RTE; Cathy Gerrard and Grainne Griffin, Citizens Information; and Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle. Picture: O’Gorman Photography

On the Teagasc stand at the Ploughing Championships for the launch of the ‘Supports for Farmers’ booklet, from left, Barry Caslin, Teagasc; Damien O’Reilly, RTE; Cathy Gerrard and Grainne Griffin, Citizens Information; and Teagasc Director, Professor Gerry Boyle. Picture: O’Gorman Photography

Farmers can apply for schemes and direct payments, funded through the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the national exchequer. These are explained in the new booklet, with sections on the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening, the Young Farmer Scheme, and the Protein Aid Scheme.

There are also sections describing the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme, Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme, Collaborative Farming Grant Scheme, forestry supports, and the TB compensation scheme.

However, it may be the sections on available social welfare supports that offer new information for many.

The booklet also has advice on employing people on the farm; permits for foreign workers; farmer taxation; pensions; farm partnerships; the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (the Fair Deal Scheme); farm succession and inheritance.

Included is a list of contacts where farmers can get extra help or advice.

What social welfare supports are available to farmers?

Farm Assist is a means-tested social welfare payment for farmers aged 18 to 66.

To qualify, you must satisfy a means test. You do not need to be available for work. Full details of how to apply are given. If you can get Farm Assist, you may also be entitled to a fuel allowance, a medical card, a back to school clothing and footwear allowance, rent supplement, or the Housing Assistance Payment.

For social welfare payments, who is defined as a farmer?

You should always check the definitions, which can be different for social welfare, VAT, tax, and EU payments.

For Farm Assist, you are considered a farmer if you farm land that you own or lease and use for husbandry (working it with the objective of taking produce from it).

To show you are a farmer for the Rural Social Scheme, you must provide confirmation of your application for the Basic Payment Scheme for the current year, including a valid herd number.

How do Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance differ from Farm Assist?

If you have been employed, but are now out of work, you may qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit, if you have paid enough PRSI contributions.

If entitled to both Jobseeker’s Benefit and Farm Assist, you can choose the more favourable payment.

There are differences in the extra benefits available.

Jobseeker’s Benefit is taxable; Farm Assist is not.

If receiving Jobseeker’s Benefit, you must also be available for and actively seeking work. You may be eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance if you do not qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit, and if you pass the means test. Again, you must be seeking work.

For most farmers, Farm Assist is more favourable than Jobseeker’s Allowance.

What is the Rural Social Scheme?

It is aimed at low-income farmers and fishermen/women. You get a ‘top-up’ payment in addition to your social welfare payment, in return for providing services to the community, which could include maintaining walking routes and bog roads, social care and care of older people, community care for pre-school and after-school groups, caretaking of community and sporting facilities, or community administration work.

You work 19.5 hours per week, based on a farmer-friendly schedule. To qualify, you must be getting Farm Assist, or be actively farming and getting another social welfare payment.

What is Tús?

It is a community work placement scheme similar to the Rural Social scheme, but you do not have to be farming or fishing to qualify.

You do work that benefits the community in return for a top-up to your social welfare payment. There is no application process. If eligible, you will be selected and contacted by your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare branch office.

Is there advice in the booklet on sickness benefit?

Yes. If certified as sick or disabled by a doctor, you may be able to apply for a social welfare payment.

What is in the education and training section of the booklet?

It helps you find details of courses, and has information on self-employment and the student maintenance grant.

Is there advice on the LEADER programme?

This is in the “Supports for rural businesses and farm diversification” section, along with sections on Local Enterprise Offices, Microfinance Ireland, diversifying your farm, and Public Participation Networks (PPNs).

What else is in the booklet?

The “wellbeing supports” part of the booklet has sections on minding your mental health, and Men’s Sheds.

What services are available on Agfood.ie?

Farmers registered on Agfood.ie can complete a Basic Payment Scheme application, edit maps relating to land parcels, upload correspondence, make a TAMS application, manage their Organic Farming Scheme participation, work on their cattle herd register, do online movement notifications, register calf births, avail of forestry services, and check nitrogen and phosphorous statements.

For registration and more information, see agfood.ie or call 0761 064424.

Where can I get this booklet?

It is available through the nationwide network of Citizens Information Centres, or can be downloaded from the teagasc.ie or Citizensinformationboard.ie websites.

(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Stephen Cadogan – 27/09/2018)

Supports for Farmers – Booklet 2018 – Teagasc & Citizens Information Board

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