Tipperary farmers joined hundred of their colleagues outside the Department of Health in Dublin this Tuesday to protest over the threat the Fair Deal nursing home scheme is posing to family farms.
Among those taking part was Ballymackey IFA national treasurer Tim Cullinan.
IFA president Joe Healy told the protest that the Government had abandoned farm families by failing to implement the three-year cap on farm assets under the financial assessment of the Fair Deal scheme. The Government has been promising this would be introduced since last July.
He said it was now nearly nine months since Cabinet approved the proposal to introduce a three-year cap on farm and small businesses assets, where a family successor committed to continue to farm the asset for a period of six years.
“Farm families are beyond frustrated with the delays. When Minister Daly announced last July that he had Cabinet approval to introduce a cap and that he would be progressing the matter in the Oireachtas in the autumn session, we thought we had reached the finish line. Unfortunately, that was not the case and we find ourselves here," he said.
IFA farm family and social affairs chair Caroline Farrell said the ongoing delays were causing huge uncertainty and distress for farm families and were jeopardising the viability of the farms affected for future generations.
“In the time since Cabinet approved the proposal, it has cost individual farm families an estimated €40,000 in nursing home costs,” she said.
Ms Farrell said what was most upsetting was that the delays were having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable of farm families, whose farms will be unviable unless the Minister acts now.
IFA is calling for the changes to be introduced without any further delay and retrospectively applied to July when the Cabinet approved proposal for new and existing farmers availing of the Fair Deal scheme; the three-year cap must also be applied to farms that are currently leased, but where a family successor gives a verified commitment that they would continue to farm the asset for a period of six years.