Approvals have started to commence under tranche 20 of TAMS II, which closed on 15 January 2021. Files have been sent back to local offices which will then notify applicants if they have been successful in gaining approval.
The timing is important as the deadline for tranche 21 is approaching fast on Friday 16 April.
Applicants who have not been successful under tranche 20 will be keen to receive word early so that they have the option of withdrawing their application, changing it to improve their selection criteria marking and resubmitting it.
The Department announced on Wednesday that tranche 22 will open on 17 April while Minister McConalogue has provided a schedule of tranches for the remainder of 2021. Tranche 23 will open for applications on 23 July 2021, while tranche 24 will open on 5 November 2021. This news will be welcomed by farmers as it gives much more clarity for planning investments.
Advisers were informed of a number of updates introduced to TAMS II in recent months. Two of these updates relate to low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment. If an applicant has received approval to invest in a tanker and attachment, the applicant can switch to a retrofit dribble bar if they wish.
It is also important to note that Nitrates Derogation applicants are no longer eligible to apply for LESS equipment. New on-screen validations and warnings have been introduced to notify ineligible applicants and prevent an application from being made.
As previously reported, fertiliser spreaders with GPS technology and calf-rearing equipment have also been added to the list of eligible equipment
Producers who are exceeding the standard nitrates organic nitrogen limit of 170kg/ha but remaining outside of a derogation by means of exporting slurry have just one year to submit an application for LESS equipment with these approvals no longer eligible after 15 April 2022.
As previously reported, fertiliser spreaders with GPS technology and calf-rearing equipment have also been added to the list of eligible equipment, along with calf-rearing equipment (automatic calf feeder and milk carts and mixers).
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels have also been added as an eligible investment under the Animal Welfare Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme (AWNSS), Organic Capital Investment Scheme (OCIS) and Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme (YFCIS).
An extension to completion dates had been in place to allow for COVID-19 disruption to construction works covers the period for approvals expiring between 1 January and 1 April 2021.
The Department announced further flexibilities on Wednesday. All participants with TAMS II approvals or COVID-19 extensions expiring between 1 April and 30 June 2021 can apply for an additional three-month extension.
The extension is not automatic and an applicant must seek an extension from the local office that granted the approval. The extension is a manual approval, meaning the computer status will not be updated.
There has also been no need to provide proof under the latest extension that work has commenced or a deposit has been paid. The Department continues to encourage applicants who have received TAMS approval but have decided against going ahead with the investment to withdraw their application so that funds can be freed up, thereby increasing the number of possible approvals.
An allowance has been in place permitting farmers to submit a payment claim without possessing a farm safety COP training certificate.
This was due to the fact that training could not take place in a physical setting due to COVID-19 restrictions, while online training courses available were not approved for TAMS purposes.
This situation has now changed and since 28 February 2021 all safety courses must be completed online.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has provided a refresher course for trainers which they must complete before their course will be approved to satisfy TAMS requirements.
The allowance to submit a payment claim without also submitting a farm safety training certificate remains in place until 26 April 2021 when farm safety training becomes a mandatory element of submitting a payment claim.
Non-EU goods At the recent Farm Advisory System training session, it was highlighted that Brexit has raised numerous questions from farmers regarding if goods and materials imported from non-EU countries are eligible for TAMS II. These goods continue to remain eligible with the proviso that an applicant must comply with any relevant customs and Revenue rules.