Changes to agri-environmental schemes to help farmers on benefits

Farmers who avail of Agri-Environmental Schemes will not see their social welfare payments impacted, due to a change to the Farm Assist Means Test.

As a result of these changes, an income disregard will now be applied to the Department’s Farm Assist, Jobseeker’s Allowance and State (Non-Contributory) Pensions.

The move is expected to benefit thousands of farmers. It is intended to incentivise more farmers to participate in the Agri-Environmental Shemes, in line with the Government’s climate change objectives.

Grants under these agricultural schemes benefit from the maximum disregard of €2,450, with the remaining balance assessed at 50%.

So as an example, a farmer who receives a grant of €2,000 would not see their social welfare payment impacted whatsoever.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys has signed the regulations that will introduce the new income disregard.

“I am delighted today to extend the list of agri-environmental schemes that benefit from a social welfare disregard – providing additional certainty to our farming community," Minister Humphreys said.

“These measures will benefit thousands of farmers across the country with a maximum disregard of €2,450 being applied.

“I also believe by expanding the list of Agri-Environment Schemes, more farmers will participate.

“I would encourage small farmers, particularly, to apply for these schemes in the knowledge that it will not have a negative effect on their social welfare payment.

“As Minister for Rural Community Development, and being from Rural Ireland myself, I know all too well the critical role our farmers are already playing in Ireland’s response to climate action.

"I hope this move will lead to an increase in the numbers taking up these schemes.”