IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair Caroline Farrell welcomed clarification from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that a farmer who has incurred a substantial loss of income as a result of restrictions can qualify for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“This means that full-time farmers who cannot sell their stock and therefore have no income can claim the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Part-time farmers who have lost off-farm employment and who have suffered a substantial loss of income can also qualify.”
IFA has received the following clarification in relation to farmers entitlement to Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment:
· Full-time farmers who had ceased trading (i.e. unable to sell or buy animals, crops or other produce) as a result of the pandemic are entitled to the payment of €350 per week.
· Part-time farmers who have lost off-farm employment as a result of the pandemic are entitled to the payment of €350 per week.
· A farmer in receipt of Farm Assist payments is not entitled to Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. However, if their income has deteriorated as a result of restrictions or loss of income, they can look for a reassessment of the Farm Assist.
· A farmer in receipt of Rural Social Scheme is not entitled to Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, but the existing payment is maintained.
· A farmer and/or spouse in receipt of Carers Allowance and Carers Benefit, including those who are working fewer than 18 hours per week, who have ‘ceased trading’ or lost their employment can claim the payment of €350 per week.
· A farmer in receipt of Disability Allowance that has ‘ceased trading’ or lost employment is entitled to the payment. The payment will be adjusted to take account of the Disability Allowance payment.
“We have been receiving numerous calls from full and part-time farmers who were getting different messages regarding eligibility even from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is important to have clarity.”
Caroline Farrell said she knew of many cattle and beef farmers who are not in a position to sell stock as there are no public mart auctions. “I would encourage these farmers to apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.”
She concluded that the reassessment for Farm Assist must be rapid and must reflect the current income position, not the normal historical assessment over the past 12 months. This concession has applied in the past where farmers suffer a severe shock in income such as fodder and other crisis situations.
The Covid19 hub on www.ifa.ie has full details of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, including the application form and advice on applying.