Farmers have yet to draw down €128m in grant aid committed to them by the Department of Agriculture under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS), according to the response to a parliamentary question issued by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.

In excess of €348m had been paid out in total under TAMS II up to the end of March, the Minister stated on 31 March.

The total funds available under the demand-led scheme is €603m, when all possible allocations are added from 2014 to the end of 2022.

The Department had received 1,735 applications for tranche 24 of TAMS, which closed on 14 January.

The number of applicants under tranche 25, which closed on Saturday 9 April, has not yet been finalised.

A review of TAMS II costings is currently under way. The revised costings effective from 24 July 2021 were only confirmed to be in place for tranches 23, 24 and 25.

Slurry tankers

Figures quoted by Minister McConalogue earlier in March suggest that low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment accounted for 62% of machinery applications approved and drawn down under TAMS II since the scheme was introduced.

The average grant for LESS equipment has declined every year from 2018.

According to the Minister, the average payment for TAMS II grant-aided LESS equipment was €8,790 this year, €760 less than the €9,550 average payment for such machines in the period from 2016 to date.

Higher pig and poultry threshold

Further comments made by the Minister in response to the parliamentary question suggest that a rise in the threshold of TAMS for pig and poultry farmer investments, which had been under consideration for some time, may be made in tranche 26.

The rise would see the pig and poultry sectors’ TAMS ceiling lifted from €80,000 to €200,000, with the Minister “confident” that pigs could be reared in the TAMS-funded housing without the need for tail docking.

“A new round of TAMS will launch shortly. This scheme offers farmers up to €200,000 towards new pig housing infrastructure,” Minister McConalogue said in the response at the end of March.

The specifications of the pig investment element of the new tranche include “more space, comfortable flooring and feeding space”.

“I am confident that future housing constructed in line with this specification will enable pigs to be reared without any need for tail docking,” he said.