As with any CAP scheme, where there is grant aid available there are certain criteria and rules that must be followed in order to make you eligible for grants, and TAMS is no different.

Throughout TAMS III, there are rules which are universal and extend across all applications, while each of the sub-schemes have their own specific rules as well.

This has been something which the Department has said is one of the three main causes of the rejection of applications under the Women Farmers Capital Investment Scheme. For schemes relating to investments for bovine, ovine and equines, a minimum of 5ha of land (either owned or rented) declared on the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) or equivalent in the year of application or preceding year is required.

For the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme, a minimum of 15ha of owned or rented land is required, with a minimum of 15ha which has been declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Tillage related investments must have a minimum of 15 hectares of eligible crops declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)/Basis Income Support for Sustainability Scheme (BISS) or equivalent in the year of application or previous year.

For intensive livestock systems, a minimum of 20 production units is required.

For equine investments, the 5ha rule listed above remains, with the added rule a minimum of three equines declared on the equine census or equivalent on the year preceding application.

LESS – stocking rate limits

Stocking rates will affect your eligibility for obtaining grant aid for LESS equipment. Farmers operating at a stocking rate of 170kg N per ha were ineligible to apply for TAMS III aid for LESS equipment, but this upper limit has reduced further and will do so more in the future.

As of 1 January 2024, farmers operating at a stocking rate of 150kg N/ha in the year of application or the year preceding it are ineligible for LESS grant aid.

This figure will further drop to 130kg N/ha from 1 January 2025 and to 100kg N/ha by 1 January 2026.

Women farmers – reference year

Despite it receiving a high profile, the uptake of the Women Farmer Capital Investment Scheme has been small at 259 applications under tranche one.

This is partly due to the short window (11 days) which applicants were given to apply for the grant aid.

Applicants must be aged between 18 and 67 when submitting the application form. The most restrictive rule that women farmers face when applying for the scheme is the reference year.

Farmers who are looking to apply for the LESS grant aid will have had to been farming at or below 150kg N/ha in 2023 and 2024 as of January of this year.

The applicant must be named on the herd number for the holding, and the herd must have submitted an application on BPS for the 2022 reference year either as an individual/Registered Farm Partnership (RFP) or company.

This reference year is not set to change, with the only option for women farmers who were not part of the farm enterprise officially on the 2022 BPS application being to hold an appropriate education level (Green Cert of equivalent) or commit to completing this within three years of applying for the scheme.

What this means is that we could see women in their forties, fifties and sixties having to complete a Green Cert course.

Dairy Equipment Scheme

The Dairy Equipment Scheme received a major slimming down in terms of eligible items as well as increased rules. Applications under TAMS III for all milking machines are restricted to holdings of no more than an average of 120 dairy cows on the holding at date of application.

The average dairy cow numbers on the holding will be determined on 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December of the relevant year preceding application.

Applications under this scheme for all milking machine investments must have at least 10% additional slurry storage above the legal minimum at date of application for a milking machine.

All slurry storage must be on either land owned by the applicant, or land that the applicant has on a long-term lease (minimum seven years from date of application).