Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says she’s very worried that farmers in Mayo will lose out on farm improvement funding because the system is simply too bureaucratic. She was responding to new figures released to her party which reveal that more than €300m of funds under the TAMS II scheme for farmers remains unspent.
Deputy Chambers explained, “I find it shocking that five years into a seven year funding programme, less than one quarter of the available money has been spent. A total of €395 million was allocated to the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme 2 (TAMS II) 2014-2020, however, to date, only €92.4m in payments have issued.
“TAMS II is an essential revenue source for farmers who want to upgrade their farms as it provides funding for farm buildings and equipment. However, the level of funding which has been drawn down so far is worryingly low, and I fear it’s indicative of the amount of bureaucracy involved.
“There were delays in the rollout of the online application process, and even when it got up and running, there were concerns about the amount of red tape involved. Many farmers became disillusioned with the process and chose not to lodge claims for approved works.
“Last year the Department of Public Expenditure carried out a spending review of the scheme and flagged issues with the ongoing underspend within TAMS II. Due to the inspections regime, the review said there is “often a delay between applicants making a payment claim and a payment being made”. This will come as no surprise to the thousands of farmers who are overburdened by paperwork.
“I have serious concerns that all of the TAMS II funding may not be spent within the timeframe. Minister Creed needs to take charge of the situation and ensure that farmers in Mayo do not lose out as a result of this overly bureaucratic system. More than €300m needs to be spent between now and the end of 2020 – it is essential that these funds are allocated without delay”.