Macra hails grass measuring addition to TAMS

Precision grass measuring equipment is now eligible for grant aid through the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS), Macra na Feirme has announced.

In a statement issued yesterday, July 5, Macra underlined its role in the move. It successfully lobbied for funding for grass measuring equipment as a means of incentivising young farmers to improve accuracy in measuring grass.

As part of its pre-budget submission for 2017, Macra called for funding to be made available to all young farmers for buying grass measuring equipment. The inclusion of such funding comes at a time when many Irish farms are not reaching their grass growth potential, the young farmers’ group stressed.

National President of Macra na Feirme, James Healy, welcomed the inclusion of grass measuring equipment to the TAMS-eligible implement range, stating: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Agriculture.”

Macra cited recent Teagasc publications in noting that just 50% of farms in Ireland are reaching their grass growth potential.

The organisation then stressed the benefits of this potential, such as reducing feed bills by increasing the proportion of grass in an animal’s diet, and providing young farmers with improved resistance to the volatility and fluctuation of grain and livestock prices.

On this, Healy said: “Grass is the cheapest feedstuff for livestock farmers and it is crucial young farmers take advantage of this funding to improve their farms’ grass growth potential.

Measuring grass provides invaluable performance information, improves decision making and is something I would advocate all young farmers to do on their farms.

Under the new rules for eligibility, a grass plate meter, or similar grass pole measuring device, and the accompanying system hardware, are now included.

The reference price per unit is set at €950; this would mean that young farmers who qualify for the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme can receive a grant of up to €570.

In addition, applicants are required to have a software-compatible ‘smart’ device (phone or tablet) when purchasing the equipment.

Healy encouraged young farmers to make sure they are capable of getting optimal use out of their grass, stating: “Through our Macra na Feirme Young Farmer Skillnet, we provide grass measuring courses in our ‘Grass for Cash’ events.

I invite anyone looking to master the skill of grass measuring to attend our ‘Turning Grass into Cash Farm Walk’, taking place on July 20.

For those interested, more information on the farm walk and on the overall range of Macra Skillnet courses can be found here.