The age limit on the 60% TAMS grant for women aged 40 to 55 will cut out more female farmers than it will support, Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group (WASG) chair Hannah Quinn-Mulligan has said.

WASG said that only 5,576 women would immediately benefit from the grant, while 12,437 would be left without access to the funding.

“Overall, we are very appreciative of the measures to support women announced by Minister Charlie McConalogue, but the age limit must be increased or else a key cohort of women will once again be left behind,” Quinn-Mulligan said.

“No business person would accept that they have to stop innovating or expanding at 55 and farmers, male or female, shouldn’t be expected to either.

“Just 12% of the farmers in the country are female and the Department’s own analysis and the CAP legal outlined that women they needed to be supported, this age limit would see a key cohort of those women who need support left behind.”

Generational renewal

She said that the group fully understood and respected the need for generational renewal and therefore had proposed that the age limit should be raised to the incoming pension age of 67.

The 60% TAMS grant is still available to women working on farms who have at least a Level 6 agricultural qualification who join a farm in a partnership, but, there again, women over 55 will be cut out.

WASG said that given how active women of all ages are on farms across the country, that this age limit was not acceptable, especially for women hoping to formalise their contribution to the farm through a partnership arrangement.

“We've already had a situation where older women working on farms have been cut off from receiving a State pension because their PRSI stamps weren't paid.

"This measure was meant to support older as well as younger women working on farms to help get the recognition to ensure something like that never happened again.

"There are up to 40,000 wives working on farms every day. Farmers are smart enough to see that this TAMS measure will benefit women and men in a partnership situation and strengthen the family farm,” she concluded.