The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has received a commitment from the Department of Agriculture that farmers can seek a fast-tracking of approval for slurry storage facilities under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS).

Farmer frustration with TAMS delays has mounted in recent weeks, with no farmer who applied for TAMS grants receiving word from the Department to date.

“We got a commitment that in the coming days, rather than weeks, there will be contact made with farmers who have applied for storage to see if their application is urgent and that there will be fast-forward approvals so that there will be storage in place for the coming winter,” McCormack stated.

He also told the Irish Farmers Journal that the ICMSA has received another commitment that scheme payment dates will be brought back in line with previous years from 2024 onwards.

Scheme payment update

“We got a commitment for 2024 and beyond that those payments will be returning to the previous dates.

“But we made this very clear to the Minister that those farmers who have been approved need to be paid on the traditional dates.

“I can’t guarantee that that will happen, but certainly we made it very clear that there is an expectation there among farm families.”

However, McCormack stated that the ICMSA made it “very, very clear” to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue that this year’s payment dates must still follow the schedule they were paid out in in previous years.

Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payments are set to be made around a month later than usual, while Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) is set to land one or two weeks later than its predecessor scheme – the Basic Payment Scheme.

Tensions high at Ag House

McCormack spoke after a meeting with the Minister, which was picketed by Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) members, some of whom shouted “traitors” and “scabs” at ICMSA representatives entering Ag House for the meeting.

The meeting was boycotted by the IFA, Macra, the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

“I have never stood behind the door when there was work to be done and when you get the opportunity to give a message directly to the Minister, a Minister who has not delivered what we wanted for farmers,” said McCormack.

“There was a number of farmers outside the door and I would be quite satisfied coming out that we executed a lot of their concerns, if not all of their concerns.

“Whether that’s BISS or ANC or TAMS approvals to get slurry storage in place for next winter, as well as the key issue being the derogation and a further infringement of a farmer’s ability to earn a living from the family farm model.”

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