Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 19 September 2017

TAMS works will have to be completed within a year

ICMSA environment chairman Patrick Rohan
ICMSA environment chairman Patrick Rohan
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Tighter timeframes for completing works which have been grant approved under TAMS are being considered by the Department of Agriculture.

Under the new regime, which applies to Tranche 6 of the scheme, the installation of mobile equipment will have to be completed within six months, the Department of Agriculture stated.

The Department did not specify the changed time frames for the installation of bulk tanks, milking machines and new buildings projects, but a spokesman confirmed that the period allowed for completion of such works was also under reviews. Under existing rules, all works carried out under the TAMS programme have to be completed within three years of works securing scheme approval.

It is understood that the rule changes were prompted by the low-level of TAMS funding that has actually been drawn down under the scheme, although considerable sums have been committed by way of approvals.

Close to €90m in grant aid has been approved by the Department of Agriculture under TAMS, but only €5m has been drawn down by farmers to date.

Confirming the changes, the Department stated that: "The timeframes are being changed to ensure that the grant aid approved is drawn down in a timely manner to facilitate budget certainty and in an effort to ensure that funding is made available for the full period of the Rural Development Programme."

However, the ICMSA warned that the tighter timeframes for completing work under TAMS risked placing undue pressure on farmers to complete investments from a financial and practical perspective.

Patrick Rohan of the ICMSA's farm and rural affairs committee pointed out that farmers had delayed TAMS-related work in 2016 because they didn't have the money.

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"This wasn't a choice to defer the work or purchase specified equipment; it was the blunt fact that they simply hadn't the money to spend before drawing down the funds approved under TAMS," Rohan said.

"Farmers will struggle to understand why the Department has decided this fairly drastic shortening of the timeframes was necessary. It's added pressure and just cut the farmers' room to manoeuvre," he added.

Flexibility

ICMSA claimed that, if the changes were introduced, a large degree of flexibility would have to be retained in supervising the scheme.

"It's obvious to us that a single year timeframe would be extremely tight and couldn't take account of income volatility - an increasingly decisive factor - or practical seasonality and the short window of opportunity which is available to complete much of the work, like installing a milking parlour," Rohan pointed out.

TAMS monies are available under a range of schemes, three of the most popular are the Dairy Equipment Scheme, the Animal Welfare and Nutrient Storage Scheme, and the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme (LESS).

Applicants for the various schemes can avail of a 40-60pc grant on a maximum spend of €80,000.

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