The revision of the reference costings under the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Schemes (TAMS), have been described as “hopelessly short of what was required” by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

According to the organisation, an opportunity to modernise TAMS and make it fit for purpose has been ‘spurned’, as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) announced lower than expected increases in the reference costs.

The chairperson of the ICMSA’s farm and rural affairs committee Denis Drennan, said that all those interested in copper-fastening Irish farming in a leading position of economic and environmental sustainability would be disappointed.

“Farmers will be reading about the ‘full review’ conducted by the department that apparently gave them these figures and will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief.  

“Steel, concrete and timber are all rising on a weekly, if not daily, basis and year-on-year would all be in the high double-digits of increase,” he said.

Drennan added that he doesn’t believe that anyone in Ireland can think an increase of 5%-15% will come close to covering the significant rise in construction costs.

“We’re left with the reality that TAMS, which was proving to be such a key driver of sustainability and modernisation, will leave farmers completely underfunded for the work they have already carried out.”

The ICMSA chair has also raised questions over the department’s ability ‘to do a simple calculation’ on rises in construction materials versus the grant rates being provided for them.

“It’s not very encouraging and represents yet another lost opportunity.”

Drennan also commented that there was a contrast between the government’s response to the crises in the pig and poultry sector versus the ‘low and slow’ response to the dairy side of TAMS.

“It’s interesting to see that the Pig and Poultry Investment Ceiling in TAMS can be increased from €80,000 to €200,000 as a response to the crippling problems they are experiencing. Why wasn’t the ceiling for dairy and beef investments increased pro rata?”

According to the ICMSA, the revised costings will inevitably have to be revisited and revised upwards. It said that “it would save time, and restore the department’s credibility, if this was done sooner rather than later”.