The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is being called on to ensure that all applications currently in the system for the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) are included in the department’s costing review of the scheme.

At a Charter of Rights meeting today (Thursday, June 3) with department officials, representatives of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) called for the review to be completed “without any further delay” and that it must “include all TAMS applications currently in the system where the work or purchase of equipment has not started”.

The department officials confirmed that the TAMS costing review is due to be completed in the coming days.

At the meeting, IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins said: “It would be unacceptable not to include all applicants because the impact of excluding them would mean they would get a lower rate of grant relative to investment costs incurred.”

Biggins also noted that materials such as steel and concrete have seen steep increases, up to 40% in some cases.

According to Biggins, delays in issuing application approvals is “forcing farmers to re-price jobs and they are finding big increases in quotations which is causing a huge amount of uncertainty”.

“The percentage of approvals issued in Tranche 21 needs to be increased compared to previous Tranches and approvals must be issued without any further delay,” the IFA rural development chair added.

The Basic Payment Scheme also came up for discussion at today’s meeting.

According to IFA deputy-president Brian Rushe, the department confirmed that “all inspections and schemes are on schedule to deliver payments on time”.

Rushe called on the department to seek flexibility from European Commission to make payments on inspection cases where they are not fully completed. He also urge the department to continue with the procedures it adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic for applications to the BPS in coming years.

The IFA deputy president went on to call on the department to continue clearing the backlog of forestry licences.

Regarding the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme, IFA national livestock chairperson Brendan Golden pointed to letters that were issued to 1,000 farmers in the scheme, referencing “associated herds”.

According to Golden, these letters “completely changed the goals posts for these farmers”.

“This is unacceptable at this late stage in the scheme. The department going back and readjusting the scheme figures for these farmers is a fundamental retrospective change to the terms and conditions signed up to by participant farmers,” he added.

Golden called for the department to allow farmers to “opt-in” to these readjusted figures, arguing that it “cannot enforce a compulsory change for all farmers affected”.