IFA Rural Development Chairman, Michael Biggins has urged the Minister for Agriculture to waive temporarily the TAMS scheme requirement of completing a Health and Safety course. Currently, no courses are available to farmers due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
“While most farmers have the course completed, IFA is aware that there are some who do not. As a result, we are calling on the Minister to provide a temporary concession in order for them to proceed with a payment claim, while giving an undertaking to complete the course when restrictions end,” he said.
The IFA Rural Development Chairman said the weekly payment of €1.5m TAMS grants must continue, as any disruption would add to cash flow difficulties on farms. In the case of farm investment, financial commitments have already been made by many farmers. It is vital that grants continue to be paid out, as farmers have to pay for work up front and show these receipts before grant aid is paid by the Department.
Michael Biggins welcomed the fact that Department TAMS approvals to proceed with work, under tranche 16, are now being issued to 2,600 farmers. However, he said it is disappointing that 660 farmers were rejected and moved to tranche 17, which closes on April 24th.
IFA has been informed that any inspection involving the young farmer element of the scheme will be done by interview over the phone.
IFA Farm Family & Social Affairs Chair, Caroline Farrell has welcomed the new national support line, which is run by ALONE in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE. The support line is open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024, and hours may be extended to meet the demand. The support line is to complement the clinical advice and information provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.
She said that professional staff are available to answer any queries regarding COVID-19 and give advice and reassurance where necessary.
“Please make older friends and family members aware of the support line and encourage them to call 0818 222 024, if they need any advice or practical support. Additionally, IFA’s new Covid-19 hub contains lots of useful, up-to-date information that is especially relevant to rural families,” said Mrs Farrell.
She concluded by saying that IFA members must continue to support older people in rural communities, as they have always done, but must ensure at that they are following the protective measures.
IFA National Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the turmoil on the meat markets as a result of the COVID-19 crisis was having an impact on the sheep trade.
Sean Dennehy said it is critical to keep the supply chain operational and farmers need to continue to observe and implement the strict protocols in place.
“The closure of the restaurants and food service sector has been somewhat compensated by a stronger retail trade, with many more people eating at home.”
The IFA Sheep farmers leader pointed out that, to date this year, we have processed 100,000 more lambs than this time last year and demand will increase for Easter on April 12th and Ramadan on April 23rd.
Sean Dennehy said that this is the time of year when supplies are at their lowest and our domestic market is the most important one.
He said based on the impact of the restrictions and lockdowns across the EU, it is clear that Minister Creed will have to make a strong case for the EU Commission to step in to support both the trade, and farmers, at this extremely difficult time.
26 03 2020
IFA President Tim Cullinan said he has spoken directly with the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed today, strongly supporting the need for alternative trading arrangements to facilitate the sale of livestock by the marts.