Farm building projects during Covid: What’s the latest?

Restrictions introduced at the turn of the year on the construction of agricultural building projects will continue – apart from certain exceptions – until at least March 5, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Exceptions will apply on animal welfare grounds, however.

In a statement to AgriLand today (Wednesday, February 3), a spokesperson for the department said:

“Following the government decision on January 26, the Level 5 restrictions, introduced on December 31, 2020, will now stay in place until at least March 5, 2021.

“This means that construction, apart from certain exceptions, must remain closed.

Essential repairs may be permissible where this is necessary for animal welfare reasons.

Where alternative arrangements to manage animal welfare are available, these repairs should not proceed, the representative added.

Continuing, the department spokesperson pointed to Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme flexibilities in place, stating:

“The minister had previously announced flexibilities for TAMS applicants with existing approvals and these continue to apply.

This means that anybody with an existing approval can avail of a three-month extension for any approval due to expire before March 31.

“This also applies to the submission of payment claims. They can do this by contacting the local Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine office which issued the approval,” the department spokesperson concluded.

Essential construction

According to Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill, essential building works ongoing on dairy farms may continue under Level 5 restrictions on animal welfare grounds.

Commenting on this, the Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD said: “I was contacted earlier this week by a number of farmers asking for clarity as to whether they could carry out essential building works on calving sheds and milking parlours for animal welfare reasons.

I received confirmation from Minister McConalogue today that such building works may continue on welfare grounds.

“We are entering the busiest time of year on dairy farms. The completion of calving house and milking farmers is absolutely essential for the welfare of these animals.

“The cows will not be waiting for restrictions to be lifted before calving and this infrastructure is absolutely necessary for the welfare of animals. I am delighted to have received timely clarification in relation to this today from the minister,” deputy Cahill concluded.