A shake-up in the Farm Assist means test will see a new income disregard that ensures farmers who avail of agri-environmental schemes will not have their social welfare payments reduced.

Farmers availing of grants under these schemes will be issued a maximum disregard of €2,450, with the remaining balance assessed at 50%.

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

Making the announcement, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said that these "major new changes" to Farm Assist means test will benefit thousands of farmers.


An income disregard will now be applied to the Department’s Farm Assist, Jobseeker’s Allowance and State (Non-Contributory) Pensions.

The income disregard is intended to incentivise more farmers to participate in them, in line with the Government’s climate change objectives.

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."

The minister hopes that the changes will lead to an increase in the numbers of farmers in these schemes, which, she said, are crucial in supporting the farm sector.

Both existing recipients and new applicants will benefit from this measure.

Schemes included:

  • Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS).
  • Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS).
  • Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme.
  • Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM).
  • Beef Data and Genomics Programme.
  • Beef Environmental Efficiency Plan (BEEP-S) as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme.
  • Dairy Beef Calf Programme as part of the Beef Sector Efficiency Programme.
  • Results Based Environment Agri-Pilot Programme (REAP).
  • Sheep Welfare Scheme.
  • Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme, including agroforestry grants and forestry for fibre.
  • Ash Dieback Replanting Scheme.
  • Creation of Woodland on Public Lands Scheme.
  • Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme.
  • Forestry Grants and Premium Schemes (2014 – 2020).
  • Forest Genetic Resources Reproductive Material Scheme.
  • Forest Road Scheme.
  • Forestry Knowledge Transfer Group Scheme.
  • Innovative Forestry Forest Technology: Central tyre inflation scheme module.
  • Native Woodland Conservation Scheme.
  • NeighbourWood Scheme.
  • Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (Ash Dieback).
  • Woodland Improvement Scheme including Continuous Forestry Cover.