The definition of ‘young farmer’ should be reviewed to maximise the numbers entering TAMS schemes, said IFA rural development chairman Flor McCarthy.
“We welcome the scheme, and we hope that it will be rolled out to all farmers before too long, and not just young farmers,” he said. “We hope the minister can adjust the scheme to include more people. The definition of ‘young farmer’ needs to be applied in a much more flexible manner as the five-year rule will exclude many young farmers who are under 40 years of age from the 60% grant.”
Mr McCarthy said there are many young farmers who acquired a herd number several years ago, but did not start farming until recently. These farmers must be eligible for the higher grant.
He also called upon the minister to include sheep fencing, grain storage, and underpasses as part of the new scheme. These items are currently excluded.
While farmers still have a month to the TAMS deadline, many have spent a busy weekend working with advisers to meet deadlines for this week’s grant applications.
Last week, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney extended the deadline for GLAS applications until midnight tomorrow night. Some 34,000 applications have been logged to date and 18,000 forms filed. Another 10,000 have begun drawing up farm plans, suggesting that these too are intending to submit an application.
“I am delighted with the reaction to the new scheme,” Mr Coveney said. “It seems likely our predictions of 25,000 applications will be fulfilled or even exceeded.”
Mr McCarthy estimates that another 25,000 farmers may apply by the January 1, 2016, deadline for the next round of GLAS.
Some of those applying next January will be farmers revising their applications to tier three level, having found their plans no longer fit new requirements issued this month by the department.
“A certain number of people were not able to get the maximum €5,000 under the revised plan, and they have held off until the second round of applications,” said Mr McCarthy. “That will give their planners time to set up their plans properly.”
This week, farmers are more focused on the Single Farm Payment application deadline of midnight Friday. Payments for GLAS, TAMS and other schemes depend on a the SFP application.
Mr McCarthy praised Mr Coveney for his handling of this week’s run of applications, notably the GLAS deadline extension.
He said the department’s IT system had encountered some issues, while the extension also recognised the poor broadband quality available to some farmers in parts of Kerry and Donegal.
“All of these applications are now via the IT system, which should mean the payments will move more quickly,” he said. “As reference costings determine grant aid, these must be regularly updated; in the past they fell out of line in previous schemes. Farmers must get the full value of the grant they are applying for.”
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