It could be March before the European Commission sign off on allowing sheep fencing to receive grant aid under the TAMS II scheme.

The addition of sheep fencing to the list of eligible investments has to be done by way of formal amendment to the RDP,  making a strong case for the addition.

The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that it submitted the amendment and the case, and are currently in discussion with the Commission on this and a range of other issues which are included in that amendment.

“If it is approved, we will add sheep fencing to the list of investment items for the next available tranche, and that would include the young farmer scheme.

“Commission has about three months to make a decision and until we see what attaches to that decision we will not finalise the detail of the various eligibility and other criteria,” a spokesperson for the Department said.

The Minister had come under sustained pressure from farm organisations over the initial exclusion of sheep fencing from the TAMS II grant schemes.

However, Budget 2016 has seen a €35.8m allocation for TAMS II which will also provide funding for the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme which will be at the higher grant rate of 60%.

Also benefitting from the scheme will be Dairy equipment, Organic Capital Investments, Pig and Poultry and as already stated Sheep fencing. It will also provide funding for the recently opened Animal Welfare, Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme and the Low Emission Slurry Spreading Scheme (LESS).

Minister Coveney said the funding of these very important Schemes will encourage the sustainable development of Irish agriculture by providing a range of new investment opportunities to Irish farmers.

Further details of what of what will exactly be covered under the sheep fencing element has yet to be confirmed by the Department.

Sheep handling equipment is already among the items eligible for grant aid under the new TAMS II farm investment schemes.

Under the scheme, farmers will be able to avail of grant aid of 40% with eligible young farmers entitled to grant aid of 60% for the equipment.