I have met with the Farmers' representative bodies and I am aware of their concerns. However, no decision has been taken on the treatment of productive farm or other business assets for student grant purposes. The up to date position is that I have received a draft report from the capital assets test implementation group. The report is currently under consideration and I will be consulting further with my Cabinet colleagues in the matter in the coming weeks.
The Deputy will appreciate that, until a collective Cabinet decision has been taken, it is not possible to say what assets may be included in any new means testing arrangements for student grants or to provide a basis for their inclusion. The Deputy can be assured, however, that the objective of a capital assets test is not to exclude any sector from availing of a grant but rather to fairly and equitably target scarce resources at those most in need of one. This means that farmers or, indeed, any other category of person whose income and assets fall below a certain level and cannot afford to send their children to third level would still continue to receive State support – while those who can afford to pay, would have to do so.