The environmental chairman of a farm lobby group has called for all farmer investments in the Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) scheme to be made exempt from VAT.

Speaking at an Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Nitrates Derogation Review meeting in the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan, Co. Meath, on Wednesday, May 22, environmental chairman Thomas Cooney said the move would “greatly increase” farmer uptake in the equipment.

Currently, farmers who apply for funding on LESS equipment under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS) – and are unregistered for vat – receive a grant allocation on the cost of the equipment excluding the VAT.

As part of the IFA’s derogation review submission, the IFA further proposed that:
  • The overall grant aid for individual farmers is increased to 60%;
  • That the separate limit to general TAMS is increased;
  • That it remains a strong measure in an enhanced Green Low Carbon Agri environmental Scheme (GLAS).

Continuing, the IFA’s derogation review submission notes that while the LESS scheme is currently available to farmers, it requires additional support to escalate farmers’ action on addressing air quality.

At the farmer meeting in Navan, he noted that to further increase farmers’ action on water quality and nutrient management, a farmer support scheme should be introduced to encourage farmers to undertake soil conditioning measures such as liming, soil aeration and using protected urea.

He stressed that the IFA is “totally opposed to farmers with low stocking rates having to take on any new compulsory measures”.

He stressed that the farmer lobby group will “fight tooth and nail” to retain derogations.

Concluding, Cooney noted that output from derogation farmers is worth an estimated €900 million to the economy.