Last week’s announcement relating to the continuation of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) for at least another tranche provided relief to farmers and advisers working against the clock to get applications submitted for tranche 20 or for those held up from applying due to outstanding planning permission or other delaying factors.
The opening of tranche 21 (runs from 16 January to 16 April) also provides another opportunity to avail of grant aid for a growing cohort of farmers deemed unsuccessful and who find themselves carried forward from one tranche to the next.
The addition of calf-rearing equipment will go some way in satisfying calls for a return of the popular Calf Investment Scheme (CIS), which ran in 2020.
The Minister for Agriculture’s announcement last week also included some flexibilities to the scheme to reflect the fact that construction works have ceased under the current COVID-19 lockdown. The flexibilities include the potential for an extension on projects due for completion or due to expire between 1 January and 1 April 2021.
The extension is for three months and those who want to avail of it must contact their local office from which their approval was issued.
The date for submission of TAMS payment claims due to be submitted before 1 April 2021 may also be extended for three months with the same procedure applicable to contact your local office. These flexibilities will continue to be monitored in the weeks and months ahead in light of any changes in the incidence of coronavirus.
There are exceptions to the postponement of construction works on farms for animal welfare purposes. Advice from the Department of Agriculture on these works as detailed by the IFA is as follows: “In certain circumstances, construction or essential repairs of calf sheds/milking parlours may be permissible where this is necessary for animal welfare reasons. This would depend on the individual circumstances of the project and would only apply to existing works scheduled for completion by the end of the month. Where alternative arrangements to manage animal welfare are available, the works should not proceed.”
The IFA has developed an essential farm travel template which is available on its website. The Department of Agriculture also has a new information line in place to assist farmers with their queries in relation to current COVID-19 restrictions.
The number is 076-106 4468 and will be open from 9.30am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Farmers should also note when making an application how likely they are to receive approval based on their likely score under the marking scheme. This is detailed in the TAMS documents for each of the seven entry routes.
The cut-off points for approval under tranche 20 will not be determined until applications are processed, but, in the meantime, Table 1 details the cut-off points for tranche 19 to give an idea of where these currently lie.
It is likely that these may have increased under tranche 20 given the high levels of interest.
Tranche 21 has also seen GPS spreaders become eligible for all enterprises. These were confined to tillage enterprises in the past.
Further information is available on this in the machinery section.
It is also important to note that farmers availing of a nitrates derogation can no longer apply for grant aid under the low emission slurry spreading measure.
The mandatory ruling for farmers operating above the standard organic nitrogen cut off of 170kg/ha but remaining outside of derogation by means of exporting slurry, comes into law from 15 April meaning these farmers will have a 12-month window to apply for LESS grant aid.
Milk feeder specification
The CIS lists that milk carts or crates must be of proprietary manufacture and not homemade. They must comprise a stainless steel or plastic container to hold the milk, a lid to maintain a secure container and two wheels and a handle to allow for easy manoeuvring. The cart must also incorporate a mixer to be capable of mixing milk replacer and water. It must be designed in a manner that allows for easy cleaning and maintenance.