Should grazing infrastructure investments be included under TAMS?

Calls have been made to have investments in grazing infrastructure included under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes or TAMS II scheme.

Improving grazing infrastructure at farm level has been shown to improve financial returns and profitability.

Teagasc research shows that each extra tonne of grass Dry Matter utilised is worth an additional €160 in farm profit, while each additional day at grass during the spring is worth €2.70/cow/day to dairy farmers.

Increasing liveweight gain through improved grass utilisation will also lead to an improvement in profitability.

In order to increase the profitability of farms, Macra na Feirme has called for investments in grazing infrastructure to be included under the TAMS II scheme.

Representatives of the young farmers’ organisation recently met with the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to put forward a submission which seeks an amendment to the Rural Development Programme to have grazing infrastructure included under TAMS.

The Macra proposal contains costings based on Teagasc figures in the Dairy Manual 2016 (of €25 per metre) for new farm roadways and costings for water infrastructure including water piping and troughs.

Macra says that improvements in grazing infrastructure will help extend the grazing season on all farms, but particularly on farms with more marginal land and allowing for more grass to be utilised.

Speaking at the meeting Macra President Seán Finan said, “Young farmers recognise the potential that grass has to drive profitability at farm level.

“Improvements in soil fertility are required, but equally investment is required in items such as roadways and water infrastructure which drive the utilisation of grass,” he said.

The Macra President added that there is huge potential for improvement in grass utilisation on farms through investment, but some sectors do not have sufficient profitability levels to drive investment without grant aid.

 A scheme which incentivises investment in grazing infrastructure is required.

“Implementation of this proposal will result in investment at farm level which will aid the strategic development of the industry.

“Not only would there be an economic return on investment but also an environmental and sustainability return,” he said.

Macra na feirme

What does the submission propose?

The submission proposes that all young farmers under 40 years of age would be eligible for 60% grant aid, with a maximum investment ceiling of €80,000.

Farmers in partnership arrangements would also be eligible for the scheme and planning permission would not be required for road and water infrastructure.

The cost of establishing the water source (i.e. well drilling) would not be included in the scheme, but the aforementioned water infrastructure would include the pipe infrastructure from the source to the grazing platform.

A farm plan, which outlines the new farm road, water pipe and troughs network to be installed, would have to be completed and submitted with the application for the grant.

According to Macra na Feirme, this proposal would:
  • Improve efficiency and profitability at farm level, thus reducing emissions and contributing to the climate change agenda.
  • Reduce production costs due to increases in grass utilization and extension of the grazing season, as a result of better access to the grazing platform via the roadway infrastructure.
  • Result in less damage to soils on heavy soil farms at entrances to paddocks/fields due to multiple access points onto a farm roadway. This would also result in less nitrogen leaking and less release of greenhouse gases.
  • Encourage a move away from set stocking to more paddock / rotational grazing systems.
  • Increase utilization of slurry, due to better access to the whole farm.
  • Help to achieve increased grass utilisation targets in Food Wise 2025.
  • Result in significant levels of employment and economic activity in rural areas.

Seán Finan concluded: “Our grazing infrastructure submission warrants serious consideration as an investment in Ireland’s climate change mitigation strategy and agricultural output.

“Macra na Feirme looks forward to discussing the proposal further with all stakeholders,” he said.