Farmers can now apply for grant aid on 168 items under the Animal Welfare and Nutrient Storage Scheme (AWNSS) of TAMS III.

The scheme covers all types of eligible housing for sheep and cattle, as well as fencing, handling facilities, slurry and silage storage.

Other new items to TAMS III this time are herd fertility monitors (cow collars/boluses), cattle underpasses, farm roadways and solar/nose water pumps.

Individuals will be able to avail of a higher ceiling rate of €90,000, with the ceiling for partnerships remaining at €160,000.

Farmers who are applying for fixed items that require planning permission must have full permission received from their local authority before applying for the scheme, as any applications received without it will be dismissed.

The first tranche of the scheme is expected to close on 16 June, planning permission typically taking eight weeks, so farmers are advised to submit planning applications soon.

The expected wait period between the closing of the tranche and approval to begin works is three months.

As such, most farmers can expect to begin construction works by mid-September at the earliest.

The AWNSS does not cover any items relating to milking equipment, which will be covered under the Dairy Equipment Scheme (DES). Many of the items listed in the AWNSS will be covered under the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme (YFCIS) or Women Farmers Capital Investment Scheme (WFCIS) which are not yet open for applications and will be subject to a 60% grant rate.

Investments in health and safety items such as animal handling and replacement of old slats are covered under the AWNSS, but will be available at a 60% grant rate under the Farm Safety Capital Investment Scheme (FSCIS) at a later date.

Changes have been made to the marking scheme for TAMS III, with marks being based off farmer age, farm size, ANC area, nitrates figures and aid awarded under TAMS II, with the higher marks being leaned towards farmers under 40, smaller farms with high ANC areas and low organic kg/nitrogen per ha.

The higher the marks a farmer receives the more likely they will be successful in their application.