While the news that calf equipment will be funded under TAMS has been broadly welcomed by farmers, it won’t have any real impact on investment costs for this spring. This is because the deadline for the current tranche remains open until 16 April.
Farmers who apply in this tranche will not know if they have been successful until sometime after this date, by which time the majority of calves born this spring will have been reared. Farmers cannot purchase equipment until after funding has been approved and this rule is strictly enforced.
However, the scope of the investments that can be grant aided under TAMS II differs from those funded under the old Calf Investment Scheme. There are currently only two items that can be funded under TAMS II – computerised calf feeders and milk carts with mixers.
This excludes teat feeders, trailed teat feeders, troughs, hay racks and penning from grant aid – all of which were eligible for funding under the Calf Investment Scheme.
The maximum cumulative amount of investment that can be funded under TAMS II is €80,000, or €160,000 in the case of a partnership
Furthermore, farmers who have reached their investment ceiling for TAMS II are ineligible to apply for Calf Rearing Equipment, but these farmers could have applied to the Calf Investment Scheme.
The minimum investment of €750 in the old scheme has been replaced by the standard TAMS II minimum of €2,000 and the upper limit of €7,500 has been withdrawn to bring it in line with the TAMS II. The maximum cumulative amount of investment that can be funded under TAMS II is €80,000, or €160,000 in the case of a partnership.
Previous reference costs for computerised calf feeders were €1,534.80 per feed station plus €7,540.60 and a milk cart with mixer had a reference cost of €6.5453 per litre of capacity plus €185.53.
It remains to be seen whether these reference costs will apply to the current scheme. If they do, a typical four-station computerised calf feeder will be eligible for grant aid of up to €13,680 at a rate of 40% or 60%, depending on the applicant’s age and status.
They have also removed many of the items that were eligible before and have failed to include mobile calf feeders
IFA national dairy committee chair Tom Phelan is disappointed with the scope of the new scheme:
“While we will always welcome new investment items under TAMS, we have to be clear that this does not represent a continuation of last year’s scheme. Many dairy farmers will not be able to avail of this addition under TAMS, as they have already maxed out their investment ceiling limit.
“A separate ceiling for this investment would have been practical to maintain our high welfare standards. They have also removed many of the items that were eligible before and have failed to include mobile calf feeders. Continuation of the scheme in its original format would have been much more beneficial for the sector,” Phelan says.