The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has called for clarity on thousands of Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS III) applications which were submitted months ago, but have yet to receive an answer from the Department of Agriculture.

Rural development chair Michael Biggins stated that both the Department and Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must end the uncertainty as to when these farmers can commence works or buy investment items with the knowledge their application is approved or denied.

The IFA claims that a meeting of the rural development plan monitoring committee last week heard that only 200 out of over 8,200 tranche one applications have been approved.

Minister McConalogue previously confirmed that all eligible tranche one applications will be approved, but works on sheds cannot commence until an approval letter is received by applicants.

Mobile items

Farmers who applied for mobile items, such as machinery or sheep handling equipment, can purchase their investment item now and will receive grant aid after approval if their application is eligible.

However, any of these farmers who are not eligible for aid are not informed this is the case until they are notified of their ineligibility and must take on the risk if they wish to proceed with purchase ahead of notification from the Department.

Thousands affected

“At the minute, there are thousands of farmers around the country who have made applications for TAMS last spring that have no idea where they stand,” Biggins said.

“It’s madness and [is] creating huge frustration, particularly among farmers tight on animal housing or slurry storage. TAMS has been a non-event in 2023.

“How can the Minister stand over a situation where farmers are unable to draw down funding this year for necessary on-farm investment.

“Something needs to change and change quick[ly]. We need solutions, not explanations or excuses at this stage.”

Heated discussions

The rural development chair referred to the TAMS approval delay as being one of the “most heated” topics of discussion at recent IFA meetings.

The fact that the Department has failed to say when it will be in a position to issue approval letters is not helping the situation, he added.

“The Department need[s] to clarify the situation, provide clear timelines on when approvals for tranche one will be fully issued and allocate whatever resources [are] necessary to quickly resolve the issue, particularly where there is potential animal welfare or health and safety issues,” Biggins commented.

“It’s just not good enough. We need clarity and resolution here quick[ly].”