21 November 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, said generators need to be included in the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II list of investment items.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Lombard said: “TAMS II has a budget of €395 million to help finance farm expansion and modernisation, including machinery. Some of the main objectives are to enable growth and competitiveness in the agriculture sector, address environmental issues, support the increased efficiency on holdings, and to improve animal health and welfare.
“Recent storm events, like those seen in October, have shown the need to include funding for generators as a measure in the TAMS II scheme. Generator equipment is an absolute requirement for farms when or if there is an outage of power, particularly the dairy sector which relies on electricity to drive milking parlours and cooling equipment.
“The dairy industry is essential to the Irish economy, with exports worth €3.38 billion in 2016. The number of dairy cows has grown significantly over the past four years, driving expansion in both exports and the need for equipment to support this increase. TAMS II has been a great asset in this growing sector.
“Aside from the obvious economic implications of a power outage, animal welfare is also of great concern. Any dairy farmer knows that their cows need to be milked at least once but preferably twice a day, and also they consume large volumes of water. These welfare necessities rely on an electricity supply, which, in the case of an outage, relies on an available generator.
“As it stands, 23% of applicants have submitted payment claims under TAMS II, which accounts for just 10% of the total allocated budget. With 2017 marking the halfway point of the scheme, I believe that the scheme could be revised to include generators as an essential investment for farmers.
“I will continue to push the Minister of Agriculture to re-evaluate the budget and TAMS II measures. Recent events have shown how vulnerable farms, especially those in dairy, are in cases of power outages. With the generous work of many farmers, sharing generators and labour, the dairy industry was able to work through the challenges presented during recent storms.
“While I applaud their work, we need to create an industry where such strenuous conditions are not necessary. The inclusion of generators in TAMS II is a simple step towards ensuring we have a Plan B in emergency situations,” the Fine Gael Senator said.