IFA President Eddie Downey has called on Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney to extend the eligible investments provided for under TAMS to include sheep fencing and targeted funding for arable crop farmers.
Acknowledging the wide range of grant aid available for capital infrastructure on farms under the TAMS II schemes, the IFA President said farmers are very disappointed that sheep fencing and infrastructure and technology for the arable crop sector have not been included. He urged Minister Coveney to revisit this decision and to include these items as soon as possible.
The IFA President said the critical areas towards which support should be targeted through the provision of grant aid are:
• sheep fencing;
• on-farm storage handling, drying and processing facilities for grain targeting the use of biomass driers;
• specialist equipment for accurately spreading organic manures in addition to the construction of dedicated storage facilities;
• sprayers with low drift sprayer technology;
• water harvesting equipment and associated storage;
• soil fertility and yield mapping technology using GPS and GIS; and
• the establishment of biomass supply chains.
In addition, Mr Downey said grant aid for underpasses should be included as it is very important on farms split by public roadways and where such investment can lead to greater efficiency, as well as the added advantage of increased road safety.
IFA Grain Chairman Liam Dunne said the inclusion of critical infrastructure and technology for arable crop farmers would enable growers to maintain competitiveness while reducing the sector’s carbon and environmental footprint: “There is considerable scope for expansion of the sector. However, this expansion will depend on increased productivity, while reducing input and crop establishment costs in an effort to improve growers’ margins.
“Arable crop farmers supply quality grain, oilseeds and proteins for use in Ireland’s livestock, milling, malting, brewing and distilling industries, while operating in a very challenging environment, competing against world prices. They have to contend with extreme price and income volatility in addition to the vagaries of the Irish weather.
“Targeted funding is required through TAMS to maintain competitiveness and to facilitate the further expansion of arable crop production, thus supporting the growth of Ireland’s rapidly expanding dairy sector, whiskey production, and gluten free oats export-orientated businesses. The use of technology will also allow grain farmers to reduce their carbon and environmental footprint.
“There are approximately 400,000ha of arable land farmed by almost 12,000 growers. It is estimated that a further 15,000 peopled are employed in the processing sectors associated with arable crop production. This employment and economic activity must be supported and allowed to grow through investment at farm level.”
IFA Sheep Chairman John Lynskey said the previous TAMS scheme did include sheep fencing and farmers who undertook this measure recognise its significant benefits, including increased performance from grass utilisation, improved management of livestock and reduced labour input.
He said, “Sheep farming is a low income enterprise and hugely important to rural areas, particularly vulnerable areas where it is not possible to undertake other enterprises. Together with other targeted sheep provisions, the inclusion of sheep fencing in TAMS would support producers in these and other areas to improve efficiency and ensure the viability of their enterprises.”
IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the IFA has asked the Minister to extend the end of August deadline for work under TAMS I.
He said, “It is impossible for farmers to get the work done by the end of next month and a deadline extension is justified. It would be unprecedented that Irish Government would not draw down its full complement of EU finding and every effort must be made to ensure this is avoided.”