What is Farm Assist?
Farm Assist (FA) is a means-tested payment for low-income farmers.
There is a similar social welfare payment for fishermen and women called Fish Assist.
Budget 2024: increase to Farm Assist
It was announced in Budget 2024 that people on the maximum rate of Farm Assist will get an increase of €12 per week from January 2024. There will be proportional increases for qualified adults and people on reduced rates of payment.
How to qualify for Farm Assist
To qualify for Farm Assist, you must:
- Be a farmer
- Be farming land in Ireland
- Be aged between 18 and 66
- Pass a means test – see ‘how your income is assessed for Farm Assist’ below.
You are considered a farmer, if you farm land that you own or lease and that you use for the purpose of husbandry. Husbandry means working the land with the aim of taking produce from the land.
How your income is assessed for Farm Assist
In a means test the Department of Social Protection examines all your sources of income. To get FA, your income must be below a certain amount.
The some of the items included in the means test are:
- Cash income that you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may have. There is some cash income not included in the means test.
- Capital, for example, the value of savings, investments, shares or any property you have (but not your own home). The first €20,000 of your capital is not taken into account. Find out more about capital not included in the means test.
- Maintenance paid to you. More information is available in our document about how maintenance is assessed as means.
On the page we look at how income from farming and certain schemes such as the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS) and employment is assessed.
You can find detailed information on how all sources of income are assessed in the means test for Farm Assist on gov.ie.
Farm income and other income from self-employment
Farm income and other income from off-farm self-employment is assessed at 70% (down from 100% since March 2017), with additional annual disregards of €254 for each of the first two children and €381 for the third and other children. (The disregards for dependent children are applied first and 70% of the balance is assessed.)
Your income from farming is assessed as gross income that you, your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant may be expected to receive minus any expenses you incur to earn that income. Your income from the previous 12 months is used to assess your likely future earnings. However, it is not simply assumed that your previous year’s earnings will be repeated the following year as farmers can have significant variations in income from year to year.
When you apply for Farm Assist, a social welfare inspector will call to see you and ask to see various documents. For example, accounts prepared for tax purposes, creamery returns, cattle registration cards, details of headage payments and area aid. They will also want information on the sale of crops, cattle, milk and other produce. The inspector will then assess the costs actually and necessarily incurred in connection with the running of the farm. These costs may include rent, annuities, the cost of inputs like feed and fertiliser and the depreciation of farm machinery. Labour costs are taken into account, with the exception of the labour of the farmer and their spouse, civil partner or cohabitant. You are entitled to receive a copy of this farm income calculation.
If you or your spouse, cohabitant or civil partner has other income from self-employment, this is also assessed, taking into account the costs incurred in the business. The income from farming and other forms of self-employment is added together and the costs involved are deducted.
You may be liable to pay Class S contributions on your income from self-employment.
Income from farm schemes and direct payments
Payments from certain farm schemes, for example, the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme (REPS), the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme (AEOS), the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or the Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environment Scheme (GLAS) are treated as follows:
- The first €5,000 per year of payments is disregarded then
- 50% of the balance is also disregarded
- Expenses incurred in complying with these measures are deducted
- The balance is assessed as means.
Under the Direct Payment system, a farmer’s payment can be a combination of payments under 4 separate schemes. These are the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the Greening Payment, the Young Farmer’s Scheme (YFS) and Aid for Protein Crops. Direct payments do not get the above disregards.
Income from leasing of land
If you have leased part of your land, the income from the leasing is assessed in full. It is not included in the assessment of income from farming as described above. If you have leased all your land, you are not eligible for Farm Assist.
Income from employment
Your income from a job is assessed. Your assessable weekly earnings (gross income less PRSI, union dues and superannuation fees) are usually assessed on the basis of the 13 weeks before you claim. Not all of your income is taken into account. €20 per day (up to a maximum of €60) is deducted from your assessable weekly earnings and then 60% of the balance is assessed as weekly means.
Any income from an occupational pension is assessed in full. If you have seasonal work, you are assessed on your earnings only during the period you are actually working.
Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant's income from employment is assessed in the same way (€20 per day with a maximum of €60 is deducted and 60% of the balance is assessed as weekly means).
People who were getting Farm Assist before 26 September 2007 and who were still in payment on 26 September 2007 may be assessed differently.
|Maximum weekly personal rate||Increase for an adult dependant||Increase for a child dependant
|€220||€146.00||Child under 12 years of age
€42.00 (full-rate), €21.00 (half-rate)
Child aged 12 and over
€50.00 (full-rate), €25 (half-rate)
An increase is payable for each child dependant if you are getting an increase for a qualified adult. If you do not qualify for an increase for a qualified adult, you may get a half-rate increase for a qualified child dependant.
How to apply for Farm Assist
To apply for Farm Assist, fill in form Farm 1 (pdf) and return it to your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
You can also get this form at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or Citizens Information Centre.
If you are not happy with a decision on your application, you can appeal. You must appeal within 21 days of the decision.