Brexit and poor beef prices call a halt to farm construction

File photo
File photo
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The number of planning permissions granted for new buildings for agriculture has fallen some 40pc since its peak in 2016.

Just 308 planning permissions were granted in the second quarter of the year compared 411 permissions in the same quarter of 2018 and the peak of 510 in 2016.

Tom Fallon, farm buildings and infrastructure specialist with Teagasc, noted that planning permissions for farm buildings granted in the second quarter of 2019 would generally have been submitted in late 2018.

"I believe the drop in number reflects an extremely difficult farming year of 2018," he said. "Low cattle prices and uncertainty around Brexit have dampened farmers' appetite for investment."

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Dairy farmers need a strong milk price to justify ongoing investment, according to Mr Fallon, and he explained that milk prices are improving and the number of Tams grant applications are now rising. "I expect a lot of activity in farm buildings over the next 2½ years," he said.

General secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Brendan Gleeson conceded in the Public Accounts Committee recently that mistakes had been made in the development of the TAMS scheme.

"When we set up the TAMS scheme, we made what was not the best decision, which was that once people had an approval, they had three years to deliver on the investment.

"That meant it was difficult to predict when the approval would mature and when the money would be spent."

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