Tuesday, 15 February 2022
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Social Welfare Schemes
503. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 85 of 3 February 2022, when she received the review on farm assist; if she will publish the review; the additional agri-environmental schemes it is intended will qualify towards the disregard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8039/22]
The Farm Assist Scheme is a means tested support for farmers on low incomes who satisfy the scheme’s statutory conditions including a means test. The estimated expenditure for the scheme for 2022 is approximately €53.9 million.
A commitment was made under the Programme for Government and in the 'Our Rural Future Rural Development Policy 2021-2025' to conduct a review of the means test disregards for Farm Assist to better reward farmers who avail of the scheme. I am currently considering the report of the review which was submitted to me in December 2021 and I will arrange to finalise it in due course.
As part of the review process it was recommended to provide for an extensive expansion to the list of Agri-Environmental schemes which will qualify towards the disregard of €2,540 with 50% of the balance assessed as means. The Social Welfare Act 2022, which enacts Budget 2022 measures, extended the list of schemes to which this measure applies.
The table below lists the additional Agri-Environmental schemes, which are under the remit of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, being added to the list of schemes to which the disregard applies:
|The Beef Exceptional Aid Measure|
|The Beef Data and Genomics Programme (2015-2020) (2017-2022) (2021)|
|The Beef Environmental Efficiency Plan (BEEPS); as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme|
|The Dairy Beef Calf Programme; as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme|
|The Results Based Environment Agri-Pilot Programme|
|The Sheep Welfare Scheme|
|The Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme (2000-2006) (2007-2013) (2014-2020)|
|The Ash Dieback Replanting Scheme|
|The Creation of Woodland on Public Lands Schemes|
|The Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme|
|The Forestry Grants and Premium Schemes (2014-2020)|
|The Forest Genetic Resources Reproductive Material Scheme|
|The Forest Road Scheme|
|The Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group Scheme|
|The Innovative Forestry Forest Technology: Central Tyre Inflation Scheme Module|
|The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme|
|The Neighbourwood Scheme|
|The Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (Ash Dieback)|
|The Woodland Improvement Schemes including Continuous Forestry Cover|
The measure was originally due to take effect from October 2022 but will now be implemented from June. It will support the Government’s climate change agenda and act as an incentive to farmers to participate in these schemes.
I trust that this clarifies the position at this time.