The Department of Agriculture is planning to move all applications for farm improvement grant schemes (TAMS II) under the new Rural Development Programme online.

The Department says the planned system for TAMS II applications will have built-in validations and it hopes will do much to short-circuit some of the problems identified with the paper based application system.

The move is part of an increasing trend in the Department to move to more online based application platforms.

Over 70,000 farmers submitted their Single Farm Payment online in 2014 with the figure rising exponentially since the facility became available.

TAMS II, funded through the Rural Development programme, is set to open in July and will incorporate a number of supports for farm improvements.

In its Rural Development Plan submission to the Commission the Department said investment in physical assets will enable the sector to respond to a wide range of policy challenges, including the cessation of milk quotas from 2015, the need for more modern and efficient infrastructure, animal health and welfare issues.

The areas identified for funding are:

Farm nutrient storage – Grant aid will be provided for the construction of farm nutrient storage facilities on farms.

Animal housing – Grant-aid will be provided in order to support the construction of new animal housing on Irish farms. The conversion of existing buildings will not be permitted

Dairy equipment – Under the 2007-2013 RDP, grant-aid was limited to applicants who held a particular quantity of milk quota. Under this new scheme, grant-aid will be extended to farmers who do not hold milk quota at the time of application.

Low emission spreading equipment – In order to encourage the purchase by farmers of this specialised type of equipment, this scheme will not be subject to the overall investment ceiling which will be applicable under the other investment schemes introduced under TAMS II.

Animal Welfare and Farm Safety – This scheme will provide grant-aid for the purchase of a select range of items, including important safety elements such as replacement slats and safety fencing.

Pig and poultry investments in energy, water meters and medicine dispensers – This scheme will provide grant-aid for the upgrading of existing buildings in the two sectors mentioned.

Organic Capital Investment (organic farmers only) – This scheme will provide grant-aid for capital investments across a wide range of areas specifically targeted at the organic sector.

Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme – This scheme will provide an enhanced grant-rate of 60 per cent in respect of investments by young farmers in the specific areas previously identified. In addition, grant aid support for dairy buildings will be available specifically for qualifying young farmers.