Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Questions (641)

Michael Moynihan


641. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person whose entire farm landholding is under forestry would be considered to be a farmer for the purposes of applying for farm assist; if a person in these circumstances will be eligible to apply for farm assist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22017/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The farm assist (FA) scheme is a means-tested payment for farmers on low incomes and is similar to jobseeker's allowance (JA).  To qualify for the scheme a person must satisfy the means test and be engaged in farming.  Recipients retain the advantages of the JA scheme such as the retention of secondary benefits and access to activation programmes. The 2019 Revised Estimates for my Department provides for expenditure of €72 million for the FA scheme.

Social Welfare legislation defines a farmer as a person engaged in farming, farming farm land including commonage, which is owned, and used for the purposes of husbandry, is leased, and used for the purposes of husbandry, or does not form part of a larger holding and is used for the purposes of husbandry.  Husbandry is defined as the working of the land with the object of extracting the traditional produce of the land. This can include the cultivation of crops or trees (forestry) and the keeping of livestock and poultry. 

I trust that this clarifies the matter for the Deputy and if he has a particular case of a person in these circumstances he should forward the details to my Department for examination.