11 Jan 2011
NEW DAIRY EQUIPMENT GRANT SCHEME MUST CATER FOR INVESTMENT DEMAND – IFARural Development
IFA Rural Development Chairman Tom Turley said the new 40% Dairy Equipment Grant Scheme, which must be introduced immediately, has got to cater for the high level of interest and the selective criteria proposed must not limit applications.
Speaking in advance of a meeting with the Department of Agriculture early next week, Mr. Turley said the recent Budget confirmed an allocation of €7m for the scheme this year. This funding will be available in tranches this year and will continue with further tranches in 2012 and 2013 with a total allocation of €45m. Funding must be front loaded to the first tranche so as many farmers as possible can be catered for when application opens.
Mr. Turley said that the selection criteria proposed by the Department must not limit the scheme and changes must be made. For example, basing eligibility on the lowest quoted price will be unfair to those farmers who put in costs based on the real cost in their area.
The IFA man said the investment limit of €40,000 and €25,000 for bulk tanks and milking equipment respectively is very limiting in relation to the required on-farm investment. Also, the failure to take account of farmers, who were locked out of the FIS when the Government closed the scheme in 2007, as a priority category will be unacceptable. Minister Smith must make this group of farmers a priority as they were unfairly treated at that time.
Continuing Mr. Turley said the new Dairy Equipment Scheme was an opportunity to give a boost to partnerships by doubling the investment limit to cater for the increased level of investment required on those farms.
Concluding, Mr. Turley said it was now important that the new Dairy Equipment Scheme is introduced without any delay as farmers have waited for too long for it to be introduced. Also the Water Harvesting Scheme which has €200,000 allocated to it this year, must also be immediately put in place. This is all the more important given the severe water problems which existed during the recent cold spell.