The ongoing delays in Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) approvals is causing considerable difficulty for many farmers, according to the ICMSA.

The Chairperson of the ICMSA’s Farm and Rural Affairs Committee, Patrick Rohan said that the delays in approvals are absolutely unacceptable at this stage.

Rohan said that applications were made for works under the Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme over six months ago and farmers still haven’t been given approvals to start necessary works.

Many applicants would have planned on having much of this work completed at this stage in advance of the busy silage period and actually many have applied for silage slabs which must be completed at least a month before silage making starts.

“ICMSA raised these points directly with Department officials at a recent Farmers’ Charter Monitoring Committee meeting and called for approvals to be issued immediately as the window of opportunity is running out for completion of many of these works”, he said.

The ICMSA representative also cited the untenable situation whereby farmers that have completed works approved under Tranche 1 of the Dairy Equipment Scheme now find themselves in a very difficult position financially because the Department of Agriculture is not currently in a position to process these payments.

“We’ve now arrived at a situation where farmers have incurred the significant costs of such works, have paid suppliers on the basis of grant approval and are now left ‘hanging’ for the money from the Department.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that prompt payment has never been more important than it’s going to be in the current year, given the extreme financial stress dairy farmers are experiencing due to what can only be described as a collapse in milk price and dairy farm income.

“By any measure it is grossly unfair and questionable to leave people ‘in the lurch’ like this”, said Rohan.

Rohan also called on the Minister to ensure that the adequate resources are put in place to process outstanding applications.

He also called on the Department to issue the grants agreed to farmers who have received approval and carried out the work and have paid contractors.