Schemes under the Rural Development Plan, such as TAMS and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme, are expected to be open from May, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Speaking in the Dail, the Minister said that schemes under the Rural Development Plan (RDP), including Knowledge Transfer Groups, Bioenergy Scheme and Areas of Natural Constraint as well as the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and TAMS, will open as soon as a ‘letter of comfort’ on the Rural Development Plan is issued by Europe.

Minister Coveney said this will mean that Ireland is likely to see “through the month of May and June the opening of the schemes one after the other”.

He said that TAMS and the Beef Data and Genomics Scheme are the two schemes that will be prioritised this summer.

The Minister said he hopes to get a ‘letter of comfort’ in the next two weeks from the European Commission, while the RDP still awaits formal adoption. However, he said the ‘letter of comfort’ is a practical measure which would allow him go to the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure to open schemes and commit payment of monies.

“It’s not ideal, but it is a solution which allows us to get schemes open.” He also said this is what farmers are looking for.

“I would have rathered at this stage that we would have a full approval process for our RDP. But the Commission is satified and we are satified that a letter of comfort will give the nessesseray financial and legal cover that we need to be able to get schemes open.”