Creed confirms flexibilities on department schemes

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has confirmed a number of flexibilities to schemes run by his department in response to Covid-19 issues.

These flexibilities – some of which have already emerged over the last number of weeks – are being introduced, the department says, to make it easier for farmers and their agents to continue to participate in these schemes where difficulties arise from the current public health restrictions in place.

“Obviously, public health measures are our priority concern right now, but it’s essential that farming continues and the schemes run by my department are important in delivering some of the key productivity and environmental outputs from Irish farms,” the minister commented.

These flexibilities include:
  • Inspections: The department has generally paused routine on-farm visits for two weeks. However, some essential inspections may be necessary on a risk basis;
  • Young Farmer Scheme: Inspection interviews to be conducted by phone. This also applies to Young Farmer inspections under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS);
  • Young Farmer / National Reserve applications: Revised arrangements in place for lodging an application where applicant’s green cert is held up due to closure of colleges;
  • Basic Payment / entitlements: Revised arrangements in place for submitting applications for transferring entitlements where it requires witnessed signatures;
  • Nitrates: Deadline for submitting nitrates records for cross-compliance inspected cases extended to end June;
  • GLAS (Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme): Flexibility has been given in relation to the 10-day deadline for GLAS records after inspections, with the department’s document request letter being amended accordingly.

TAMS ‘flexibility’

A number of new flexibilities were also introduced specifically for TAMS.

These flexibilities include:
  • The closing date for Tranche 17 of TAMS has been deferred from April 24 to June 5;
  • Flexibility on TAMS completion deadlines – a three-month extension on all projects due to be completed (or approvals due to expire) between March 1 and July 1;
  • A three-month extension on outstanding TAMS payment claims for projects to be completed by July 1.

Furthermore, on the health and safety course requirement for TAMS (these courses are now postponed), a derogation is now in place which defers the obligation to do the course, but allows the applicant to be paid for completed works.

This derogation is proposed for a three-month period. These participants will be required to complete a course when courses resume.

TB testing

Minister Creed also drew attention to the additional flexibilities he has introduced with regard to TB testing arrangements where the department “continues to seek to facilitate farmers in continuing efforts to eradicate TB and undertake testing as required”.

“The overriding principle in all situations is that the health and safety of farmers, vets, service providers, contractors, other staff and their families is paramount,” Minister Creed concluded.