Unfortunately, many farmers are put off TAMS aid by the requirement for planning permission.
Part of this is the time it takes to prepare an application, as well as the cost, while for others the works are a matter of urgency and waiting for planning and acceptance of an application is not an option.
While I accept that it adds extra work and time to the application, not all investments require planning, and even some of those that do will pass with a letter of exemption.
Ignoring grant aid, especially at the 60% rate, for work you are intending doing anyway is not something that you should do.
TAMS and agitation points
Agitation points feature heavily in the revised Department of Agriculture specifications. Agitation points/extraction points will now be located so that the slurry tanker does not have to pass over any slats while the tank is being emptied (to reduce the strain placed on slats and extend their working life).
Where an agitation point(s) is located between the sides of two buildings, there should be a minimum of 6.0m clear space between the two buildings, including between any roof overhangs.
External agitation points are now defined as being outside of the roofed area, including outside of any canopy or overhang of a building.
Agitation points should normally not be placed in an unroofed animal area, ie unroofed slatted units. It is necessary to place agitation points outside of areas in which animals have access to them as there is a risk of animals falling in to opened points or where the agitation cover has corroded.
However, if a farmer feels it absolutely necessary to place an agitation point in an unroofed animal area, they have the option to write to the Department prior to grant aid approval being issued.
The documentation submitted by the farmer in support of their request should include a detailed farmyard plan showing the dimensions of all buildings, the location and dimensions of all tanks and the distance between all buildings.
The farmer should also include a detailed written explanation of the reasoning for the agitation point to be included in the unroofed animal area.
Farmers should note that grant aid will not be given for TAMS work completed in/on buildings where there is an internal agitation point. This does not necessarily mean the building itself, but extends to buildings that share an airspace with the buildings such as lean-tos. This could affect farmers completing works on parlours that are adjoined to cubicle houses that have old internal agitation points.
Where farmers find themselves in this situation, there are options available. TAMS III also gives grant aid for creation of external agitation points and simple aeration systems to remove the need for agitation.
For creation of an external agitation point, the grant aid provides for the removal of the existing tank wall, the extension of the tank (excavation, backfill, floor, walls) and both the new tank cover and safety manhole cover.
Where there is a double-slatted tank, farmers can install two agitation points at one end of a double-slatted tank.
Planning permission or a letter of exemption is required but will not be sought at the application stage, but must be provided if requested by the Department with the date of planning approval on or before the date of application.
The reference cost for each agitation point is €5,336.10 and is falling under the Farm Safety Capital Investment Scheme (FSCIS) tranche of TAMS III, meaning all farmers will be able to avail of a 60% grant rate.
Where farmers wish to install simple aeration systems in lieu of external agitation points, the cost will be paid per m3 of tank that the aeration system is to be installed in, with different rates applied for those installing with a new or existing air supply including new air supply.
A slightly complicated equation is used to calculate the reference cost. To give an example, an eight-bay tank (standard 4.8m bays) with a 16ft 6in slat installed will have a tank floor area of 180.48m3 and will have a reference cost of €12,983.82 where a new air supply is installed.
Where there is an existing air supply, subtract €7,000 from the reference cost. No planning permission is required for installing an aeration system, and similar to the external agitation points, installing a simple aeration system allows for a 60% grant rate to be recouped under FSCIS.
Where farmers are looking to carry out retrofitting works on slats and tanks, the FSCIS and the Organic Farming Capital Investment Scheme (OFCIS) will prove valuable. The OFCIS will give a 60% grant rate to qualifying farmers to remove slatted slats and replace with heavy-duty solid slabs to allow farmers to meet the solid floor requirements of organic housing.
As mentioned above, farmers can avail of a 60% grant rate for creating external agitation points under the FSCIS, but the scheme also covers a range of other options.
Aged and worn slats can be replaced at the higher grant rate for cattle, pigs and sheep/calf slats, with heavy-duty options available for cattle slats and solid slabs for pigs also eligible.
New manhole covers can be installed with a reference cost of €643.57. Replacement of slats or manhole covers does not require planning permission.
Regarding existing external storage such as lagoons and open mass concrete tanks, farmers can invest in protective fencing at a reference cost of €72.66/linear metre or in a safety agitation platform at a reference cost of €2,313.92.