IFA Rural Development Chairman Joe Brady has described as unacceptable that the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is sitting on applications for TAMS grants for farmers who applied in the last tranche of the scheme which closed in early April.
Speaking following a meeting of the Rural Development Committee, Joe Brady said farmers who applied are anxious to proceed with work, particularly as the weather is ideal for construction and works can be completed well in advance of next winter.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said that many of the applicants are for feed bins for drystock farmers, which were introduced for the first time for that sector earlier this year.
“There was a pent-up demand for this item under the scheme and now that it is eligible, the Minister and his Department must give all farmers who applied the go ahead as well as all other applicants. There are many dairy applicants who need to get work done now to meet their investments needs,” he said.
Joe Brady pointed out, in the 2014–2020 RDP, €395m has been provided for TAMS. Of this, €132m has been paid out to 9,000 farmers. This means that with about 18 months to go in the current RDP, only 33% of funds have been spent. “Holding up approvals is totally unacceptable. At the rate of expenditure to date, the full allocation will not be used up.”
The recent introduction of Solar Panels for grant aid is welcome. It is clear that the allocation of €10m for this new measure is the first admission by the Minister that there will be an underspend on TAMS.
Joe Brady said that this must now be followed by the inclusion of underpasses; rubber mats; an increase in the investment limit for the intensive sector; a separate investment limit for solar panels similar to Low Emission Slurry equipment.