Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 22 October 2017

Families could see farm future 'wiped out'

Attempts to curb a special deal on nursing home costs for farmers could hurt rural areas, as families would have to sell off parts of their holding to cover costs. (Stock image)
Attempts to curb a special deal on nursing home costs for farmers could hurt rural areas, as families would have to sell off parts of their holding to cover costs. (Stock image)

Claire McCormack

A move to block crucial reform of the Government's Fair Deal scheme could wipe out farm families for generations, Niall Garvey, the CEO of Muintir na Tíre, has warned.

He said attempts by the Office of the Attorney General to curb a special deal on nursing home costs for farmers would hurt rural areas, as families would have to sell off parts of their holding to cover costs for an elderly parent or loved one.

After years of campaigning for changes to the scheme in line with a more just and equitable assessment of a farmer's "asset-rich but cash-poor" status, farm organisations are demanding more certainty as a review of the scheme continues.

"While it is only fair and right to consider the income of anybody assessing their eligibility for Fair Deal, there should be special consideration given to farmed agricultural land," said Mr Garvey. "The reality is most farmers are just custodians of that land, they inherit it, pass it on and don't make a large income from it.

"People are afraid for what is going to happen when they need nursing home care, that either they won't be able to afford it or will have to sell off land which basically wipes out the farm for the next generation."

Briefing documents seen by the Irish Independent detail how the Irish Farmers' Association is seeking measures that will result in 90pc of farm assets being exempt from consideration when it comes to nursing home bills. It has called on the Government to base the nursing home fee on the "agricultural value" of the farm, rather than the overall assets themselves.

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