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Low Income Households

Focusing on farm income alone suggests that there is a high proportion of low income farm families, however, data on consistent poverty[5] shows that farm households tend to have much lower rates of consistent poverty  than other urban or rural households. This has been a pattern for a number of years and suggests that farm households have lower rates of basic deprivation than other household groups.

Also, the risk of poverty was lower among farm households than for urban households when compared at the 60% relative poverty line.

[5]Consistent poverty is defined as being identified as at risk of poverty together with being deprived of two or more of the eleven basic deprivation items.


Farm Assist, administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs, is a means tested income support scheme aimed at low income farm families. At the end of December 2010, there were 10,714 participants the scheme, an increase of 1,742 on the end of 2009 figure. In total there were 25,369 beneficiaries including recipients, qualified adults and children, an increase of almost a quarter year-on-year.
The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was launched in May 2004 to provide an income supplement to low income farmers and fisher persons while at the same time harnessing their skills for the benefit of rural communities. The scheme requires participants to work 19.5 hours per week and is administered in a farmer/fisher friendly manner allowing participants to work flexible hours. Since November 2006, all of the 2,600 participant places and 130 supervisor places have been allocated with individual quotas assigned to each of the Implementing Bodies. Responsibility for administration of the scheme transferred from the Department of Community, Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs to the Department of Social Protection on 1st September 2010.