Responding to the announced increase in TAMS reference costings, chairperson of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) Farm and Rural Affairs Committee, Denis Drennan, said that while any increase was welcome, upwards adjustments had to be sufficient to maintain the real value of the grants which “have been drastically eroded”.
He also highlighted how the increase was “hopelessly underpowered and inadequate” against the kind of inflation in construction costs that everyone – including the Department – knows has taken place.
“I am personally aware of cases where the costs quoted have risen by 35% in a single year,” he continued.
“Current TAMS costings are hopelessly adrift of that and we’re not that much better after this increase.
“We needed the Department to halt the continuing fall in the value of the TAMS grants in real comparative terms, they had the information and all the examples we supplied that showed, conclusively, that TAMS role of modernising individual dairy farms was slowing down as the scheme’s costings fell further and further behind the reality.”
Mr Drennan went on to say that ICMSA considered TAMS to have been a “categorical success” in terms of its ambition and outcomes but highlighted the importance of keeping it current in terms of “real costs”.
“TAMS has fallen in real terms to the point where it’s in danger of becoming irrelevant,” he added.
“We needed an immediate rise in costings that recognises the kind of 35% to 40% increases in construction costs and a firm commitment to adjust those costings in line with any further construction costs inflation.
“Those increased costs should have been made retrospective to all applicants for this TAMS.
“If TAMS is to stay meaningful and remain the driving force that it has been, then it has to be based on real figures and real costings.
“This increase doesn’t begin to do that and must be seen as a missed opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue said the proposed changes to TAMS were implemented when Tranche 23 opened on July 24.
“TAMS continues to be a hugely successful and beneficial scheme to Irish farmers,” he added.
“The increase in reference costs for a large number of investment items will ensure farmers have access to the generous grant rates available to carry out important on-farm investments.
“I recognise that costs are changing on an ongoing basis and my department will commence a further review immediately to ensure costings are kept as current as possible.”
The Minister says that all reference costs under TAMS II have been fully reviewed and will be increased in the case of own labour and in the case of 62 investment items, with increases ranging from 5-40%.
A decrease of 10-30% will be implemented in the case of three investment items.
The Department continues to issue weekly payments at the rate of €1.3m on average with €34m now issued in respect of completed investment works this year.
Payments of over €298m have now been issued in total with 21,500 approved applications for completed investments paid since the opening of TAMS II.