Creed expects TAMS budget to be fully spent despite massive underspend

A new calf shed.
A new calf shed.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that it is expected that the almost €400m budget for a farm building grant scheme will be spent despite a massive underspend to date.

The underspend on the EU funded scheme which provides grant aid of up to 60pc to farmers for various on-farm improvement works was recently described as 'alarming' by Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue

The Minister said last week that expenditure on the 'TAMS II' scheme to date was €96.9m.

He said applications continue to be received and processed under the Scheme with over 2,000 applications submitted under the latest tranche that closed on December 7 last.

"It is expected that the budget of €395m for the period of the RDP will be fully spent.

"The inclusion of additional items such as meal bins for all sectors including the dry stock sector can only be considered in the context of the overall budgetary position which is being closely monitored," Minister said.

Recent figures for the scheme also showed that grant approvals in the amount of €280.5m have issued to 17,516 farmers to undertake investment works on their holdings.

However, of these, just 7,408 farmers have submitted a payment claim.

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The Minister recently said that the remaining unclaimed commitments must be honoured until their approval expires.

Fianna Fáil's McConalogue described as alarming the fact five years into a seven-year Rural Development Programme and only 33pc of the money has been spent.

Deputy McConalogue said serious questions have to be asked about the ability of the Minister and his Department to manage this vitally important scheme. 

"The programme, which provides grant aid for farm buildings and equipment, is an essential revenue stream, which allows farmers to repair and upgrade their operations. 

"This current programme only runs until 2020 and I have serious concerns that the money will not be spent in the time that is remaining.

“The scheme was launched in June 2015, but the online payment system only became operational a year later. 

"This delay, combined with rigid bureaucracy in the application process, has resulted in large numbers of farmers growing disillusioned with the process and choosing not to lodge claims for approved works," he said.

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