Farm Assist payments need to be to increased in line with Covid-19 unemployment payments for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis according to ICMSA Farm Business Chairperson, Shane O’Loughlin.
Mr O’Loughlin said that in times of national crisis such as we are experiencing, it is essential that all sections of society are treated equally and seen to be treated equally. He said that there are now many farm families who are severely stretched due to the downturn in particularly livestock prices and simply cannot make ends meet.
“There’s a system-glitch emerging where farmers are unable to receive the self-employed pandemic payment because they’re earning some income – albeit very severely reduced. That means they have to turn to Farm Assist as quickly as possible but then we see that Farm Assist is noticeably lower than the Covid -19 unemployment benefit. ICMSA thinks this should be remedied quickly and fairly”, said Mr O’Loughlin.
The ICMSA Farm Business Chairperson also said that the assessment for eligibility will need to be done on a ‘current year’ basis.
He is also of the opinion that we will need speedier processing given the anticipated increase in applications in the coming weeks as the impact of reduced farm output prices hits, dropping farmer income and making more eligible for the payment.