The president of ICMSA said that his association would contact every TD within the week registering farmers’ complete rejection of what he termed the fundamental iniquity at the heart of Minister’s Quinn’s proposed changes to the system of third level grants as reported in the media.
Mr Comer said that the reported proposals represented a seismic move away from the income of applicants’ families and on to the much less fair basis of perceived assets.
He said that the reported proposals would undoubtedly result in a general discrimination against the children of self-employed in terms of the awarding of third level grants, but they would most specifically introduce a systematic bias against the children of farming families who needed the grants to proceed to third level.
The ICMSA president stated that a farm was nothing more than the tool by which a farmer earned his income and he was scathing on the subject of what was - and evidently was not - to be considered an asset.
Mr Comer said that a farmer working a 75-acre farm “every day” would hardly make the average industrial wage and indeed, as was the case as recently as 2009, might work all year for absolutely nothing. “In 2009 you could have farmed 500 acres and still have ended up with no net income at all”, said the ICMSA president.
Mr Comer said that ICMSA now repeated the question it had first asked of Minister Quinn last August: why is a farm considered an asset but a gold-plated public sector pension not?
“If a working farm of 70 acres is now to be considered an asset in the calculation of eligibility for third level grants then simple justice dictates that the kind of incredibly lush, taxpayer-subsidised, pension packages that are available to politicians and public servants should also be factored-in to the calculation formulas? Why are they not? Aren’t they wealth too? And much more accessible and guaranteed forms of wealth than a farm of land that has to be worked every day for a return that’s never guaranteed and which occasionally disappears altogether? Inclusion of working farms in this way is unjust and biased and it will be resisted to the fullest extent” said Mr Comer.