TAMS works will have to be completed within a year
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.