Farm-assist payments drop to lowest level in five years
The number of farmers in need of farm-assist payments has dropped to its lowest in the past five years, according to the latest figures.
The statistics from the Department of Social Protection show those approaching retirement are most dependent on the pension, as two-thirds are 50 years of age or over and almost a quarter are within five years of the state pension age.
It also paints a picture of the level of demand across the country, with counties in the north-west such as Donegal and Mayo having the highest number of claimants for the means-assisted payment.
Current figures show that there are 7,234 people in receipt of payments, compared to 10,303 in 2013 and 9,809 in 2014.
A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection said that the reason for the decline is due to dependants moving from the current scheme to the state pension.
"Over the last five years, the numbers in receipt of a farm-assist payment have been falling. The customers on the scheme are disproportionately older in age.
"Over 66pc are 50 years of age or over and nearly a quarter of the current scheme recipients will reach the state pension age over the next five years. From this age profile, it is likely that claimants are moving from the scheme to retirement."