The Department of Agriculture has been accused of piling massive additional costs on farmers by insisting that internal farm roads will need planning permission to qualify for grants.

Under the new Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), farmers will require planning permission for internal farm roads to access support payments.

ICMSA deputy president Denis Drennan said the move was totally unnecessary and indicative of the difficulties that farmers are encountering daily with TAMS III, which he described as “shambolic from start to finish”.

“The Department [is] requesting farmers to get planning permission for internal farm roadways, a condition that was never in place before and overnight adds thousands to the cost of a project unnecessarily,” Drennan said.

'No frills' application

The farm body pointed out that a “no frills” planning application costs around €2,000 at a minimum and this was without any objections being lodged or an environmental impact assessment (EIA) being required.

Under the current TAMS scheme, farmers are eligible for grant aid of €24.90/m for new farm roadways. The maximum payment under TAMS is generally €90,000 per applicant.

In a scathing attack, Drennan called for a complete review and relaunch of TAMS III because the current programme was “broken, illogical and dysfunctional”.

Along with the roadways issue, he cited five other major defects with the scheme:

  • A delayed closing date for tranche one.
  • Delayed approvals in tranche one, with approvals likely to run into 2024 for the majority of farmers.
  • No closing date for tranche two, despite repeated requests.
  • A female farmer will not qualify for the 60% grant if she is a joint herdowner with a male.
  • If a farmer pays for the goods through a joint account with another herdowner, they will not get their grant.
  • TAMS has become an “exercise in frustration” and the scheme had been hopelessly undermined by “ridiculous rules”, Drennan said.

    “The scheme is being completely choked to the point that farm investments that should have been completed for winter 2023 will be lucky to be completed for winter 2024,” Drennan said.

    “At a time of huge focus on the environment, it is absolutely ridiculous that we have a once successful and progressive farm scheme being literally choked out of existence by poor administration, illogical sequencing and just downright silly and superfluous rules,” he added.

    In addition, the ICMSA representative pointed out that the Department’s costings for TAMS grants were completely “out of kilter” with the real construction charges that farmers were facing.