Thursday, 26 September 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme
I welcome the Minister. This matter relates to the inclusion of underpasses in the targeted agriculture modernisation scheme, TAMS. The latter, which was launched in June 2015, is a unique scheme with a budget of over €400 million to fund farm investment. There are six priorities attached to the scheme and all have been very successful. However, the priorities at farm gate have changed. When the scheme was launched, one of the priorities was low emissions spreading, which at the time was not an issue for farmers but is now a key driver in terms of the changes being made on farms. There have been major changes to agricultural schemes, including a reduction in the size of dairy herds.
I raise this issue because underpasses are a key aspect of infrastructure. Many dairy farmers and fragmented holdings need to invest in underpasses to ensure they can develop their farm enterprises. This is a significant investment of a six figure sum and requires planning permission. TAMS will expire in 18 months. I am interested in hearing from the Minister if work is underway in the Department on a new scheme and, if so, if consideration will be given making provision in it for underpasses. I am not asking the Minister to change the current scheme because it is due to expire in 18 months. Rather, I am asking that the new scheme that will follow in 2020 when the current scheme expires would provide for underpasses in light of the changes in terms of farm development and the scale of farms, in particular dairy farms, since 2015. The benefits of this measure include savings in labour, increased health and safety on the roads and fragmented farms being able to reach their potential, which are key drivers of the Food Wise 2025 policy mentioned by the Minister.
I hope that a new scheme will be introduced post 2020 and that it will include provision for underpasses, which are key items of agricultural infrastructure that will save time.It would be safer for drivers and pedestrians and would increase dairy farmers' profitability.
Where does the Minister believe the targeted agricultural modernisation scheme, TAMS, will go? Will there be a TAMS III and, if so, could these underpasses be considered in that proposal?