Grant aid for land drainage under TAMS ruled out

Land drainage is set to remain ineligible for grant aid under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation scheme (TAMS).

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, ruled out the measures in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Niamh Smyth.

Deputy Smyth asked the minister about his plans to introduce grant aid for land drainage for farmers due to severe wet weather.

At this juncture, the budget for TAMS is already fully committed to current eligible items included in the scheme under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, Minister Creed explained.

Continuing, he said: “Support for land drainage is not, therefore, included in the programme.

“It must also be recognised that any such measure would require full compliance with environmental requirements – including the need for a full national Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and appropriate assessments for any potentially affected natura areas.

“Such requirements in any potential measure should not be considered insignificant, as would the challenge of securing European Commission approval.”

Mats for slats a non-runner

Meanwhile, the minister gave a similar response when independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice asked about plans to implement a scheme covering mats for slats under TAMS II.

He said: “The TAMS II schemes have been very successful in terms of uptake, with the number of applications to date exceeding 15,500 and approvals issued exceeding 12,400.

All of these approvals represent committed expenditure under the TAMS II measure of the RDP 2014-2020. Until such time as these approvals are acted upon or expire, the budget for TAMS must include provision for the potential expenditure involved.

“The inclusion of slat mats under the TAMS II schemes can only be considered in the context of the overall budgetary provision.”

Minister Creed also confirmed that in excess of €31 million was paid out under TAMS II in 2017.

“The TAMS II scheme with a suite of six measures was launched during the course of 2015, with a seventh measure – the Tillage Capital Investment Scheme – launched in March 2017.

“Over 12,400 farmers have been given approval to proceed with investment works under the seven TAMS measures. To date 3,361 of these applicants – or 27% – have submitted a payment claim.

“Payment claims in respect of approved works submitted via the online payment system will continue to be paid as they are received,” he concluded.