‘One or two-year TAMS II approval timeframe would be extremely tight’

A one or two-year TAMS II approval timeframe would be extremely tight and couldn’t take account of the ongoing kind of income volatility for family farms, Pat Rohan of the ICMSA Farm and Rural Affairs Committee has said.

Rohan was responding to reports that the Department may have to look at the way issues approvals under the scheme.

“The retention of a large degree of flexibility with regards to the time period for completion of works from date of approval would be ‘a must’ as far as the relevant farmers were concerned,” he said.

Currently all works had to be completed and a valid claim for payment received by the Department within three years of the date of issue of approval, Rohan said.

While he understands the challenges around the ‘lag’ between processing applications, issuing approval, getting the work done and submitting certificates of completion for reimbursement, he said these ‘snags’ were unavoidable in the context of the financial disastrous period from which dairy farmers were only now beginning to emerge.

“ICMSA does appreciate the issue that the Department is referencing but it’s simply stating that facts to observe that 2016 has been a very difficult year financially for many farm families.”

Despite their best intention to complete works envisaged at time of application, very often their cash flow hasn’t allowed the works to be completed in the current year.

“There is also a certain amount of individuals waiting to complete the Farm Safety Course which is a requirement under the terms and conditions for payment.

“In addition, the delay in approvals by the Department meant that some farmers were forced to postpone works until 2017,” he said.

Going forward, he said that a one or even two-year approval timeframe would be extremely tight and couldn’t take account of the kind of income volatility which is now a major recurring problem for family farms.

The Farm and Rural Affairs Chairperson said that in order to allow farmers plan and complete work in a financially viable fashion, a one year deadline would not be feasible and a more realistic timeline as well as significant flexibilities would be required.