Due to the underspend of funding available to TAMS Farm Investment Scheme and the likelihood that not all EU funding will be spent by the end of 2013, IFA has proposed a number of changes to scheme to improve uptake.
Following a meeting with Department of Agriculture officials IFA Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy said the time is opportune to widen the eligible items for grant aid across all sectors so that the investment scheme reaches its full potential.
Flor McCarthy said that it is clear that of the €90m allocated to the scheme in 2010 only €7m has been paid out in grant aid to date. While the investment claims in the Poultry + Pig Welfare Scheme will increase later in the year, nevertheless for other schemes EU funding will remain unspent unless urgent action is taken to broaden the scheme.
Flor McCarthy said that IFA is proposing the inclusion of additional items for grant aid for livestock farmers including animal weighing scales as well as measures to make the handling of cattle safer. This should include grant aid for cattle races and collecting pens, restraint gates, calving facilities. In addition feed bins for all sectors should be eligible for grant aid.
Continuing, the IFA Rural Development Chairman said that in the case of the Sheep Fencing + Handling scheme there is a necessity to increase the investment limit from the current level of €10,000 to €20,000 per farmer.
On the Dairy Equipment Scheme Flor McCarthy said that the investment limits need to increase by 10% in line with the increase in steel prices.
In relation to the administration of the scheme IFA has called for a quicker approval process following each tranche as the time frame between applying and approval is too long.
Overall on the scheme IFA is urging farmers who have who have finished their work under the scheme to date to make their grant claim to the Department of Agriculture so that payment can be made