1 April 2020
By Mary Bermingham
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., today confirmed a number of flexibilities to schemes run by his Department in response to COVID-19 issues. These flexibilities are being introduced to make it easier for farmers and their agents to continue to participate in these important schemes where difficulties arise from the current public health restrictions in place.
The Minister commented “Obviously public health measures are our priority concern right now but it’s essential that farming continues at this time and the schemes run by my Department are important in delivering some of the key productivity and environmental outputs from Irish farms. I have introduced some flexibilities to the scheme arrangements to reflect the fact that certain practices are not possible at this time and alternative arrangements are required.”
The list of flexibilities include:
- Inspections: The Department has generally paused routine on-farm visits for two weeks. However, some essential inspections may be necessary on a risk basis.
- Young Farmer Scheme: Inspection interviews to be conducted by phone. This also applies to Young Farmer inspections under TAMS.
- Young Farmer/National Reserve applications: Revised arrangements in place for lodging an application where the applicant’s green cert is held up due to closure of colleges.
- Basic Payment Entitlements: Revised arrangements in place for submitting applications for transferring entitlements where it requires witnessed signatures.
- Nitrates: Deadline for submitting nitrates records for cross-compliance inspected cases extended to end June.
The closing date for Tranche 17 of TAMs has been deferred from 24 April to 5 June;
Flexibility on TAMS completion deadlines – a 3-month extension on all projects due to completed (or approvals due to expire) between 1 March and 1 July;
A 3 month extension on outstanding TAMs payment claims for projects to be completed by 1 July;
Health & Safety course requirement for TAMS – As these courses are now postponed, a derogation is now in place which defers the obligation to do the course but allows the applicant to be paid for completed works. This derogation is proposed for a 3 month period. These participants will be required to complete a course when courses resume.
Normally 10 day deadlines for GLAS records following inspection – flexibility has already been given here with the DAFM document request latter amended to reflect this.
The Minister also drew attention to the additional flexibilities he has introduced with regard to TB testing arrangements where his Department continues to seek to facilitate farmers in continuing efforts to eradicate TB and undertake testing as required, while also facilitating the continuation of animal movements and the continuity of all elements of the food supply. The overriding principle in all situations is that the health and safety of farmers, vets, service providers, contractors, other staff and their families is paramount.
Finally the Minister also reminded farmers and agents that his Department has established a Covid-19 helpline line which can be reached at 076 1064468.