Underpasses, CCTV and security grants for farmers will all remain ineligible for funding under Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes II (TAMS II) measures.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, confirmed the stance in response to a number of parliamentary questions from Fianna Fail TD Niamh Smyth.
It was put to the minister whether he had any plans to extend TAMS II measures to include the funding of underpasses in cases where people have land banks on both sides of local, national and regional roads – in view of the “excessive costs” of the project.
However, the minister ruled out extending the measures on the basis of current budgetary commitments.
Replying, Minister Creed said: “The TAMS II scheme already provides attractive grant rates for a comprehensive range of items. There are no plans to grant aid CCTV under the TAMS II measures.
“Overall, I am delighted that the scheme has proved to be so popular with Irish farmers – with over 15,000 applications submitted to date. Of these, over 11,500 – or over 75% – have been approved to commence work.
“Approvals issue on an ongoing basis, with approvals under the most recent tranche due to commence shortly.
The figures are much lower when it comes to payment claims. To date, only 2,670 payment claims have been submitted. The department has actively encouraged all approved applicants to submit payment claims including by contacting approved applicants individually by text message.
“All 11,500 approvals issued represent potential outstanding liabilities for the department. Until these approvals mature to payment stage or the timeframe of the approval expires a budgetary provision must be available to make payments.
“For this reason I am not proposing to open the scheme to new investments,” Minister Creed said.
The minister made a similar argument when queried recently on whether or not generators would be included under TAMS II measures.
TAMS II revision
However, further calls were made lately by Cork-based Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard for generators to be included in the TAMS II list of investment items.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Lombard said: “Recent storm events, like those seen in October, have shown the need to include funding for generators as a measure in the TAMS II scheme.
Generator equipment is an absolute requirement for farms when or if there is an outage of power, particularly the dairy sector which relies on electricity to drive milking parlours and cooling equipment.
“As it stands, 23% of applicants have submitted payment claims under TAMS II, which accounts for just 10% of the total allocated budget. With 2017 marking the halfway point of the scheme, I believe that the scheme could be revised to include generators as an essential investment for farmers.
“I will continue to push the Minister of Agriculture to re-evaluate the budget and TAMS II measures. Recent events have shown how vulnerable farms, especially those in dairy, are in cases of power outages.”