Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, has called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to review the terms and conditions of the Marts ICT Infrastructure Scheme 2021.
Earlier this week, Minister McConalogue announced the opening of the scheme, which allows marts to avail of a grant of a maximum of €5,000 to cover 50% of its expenditure on ICT infrastructure.
According to Fitzmaurice, the DAFM has treated livestock marts “unfairly treated” when it comes to the “finer details” of scheme.
“While the scheme was a welcome development when it was first revealed last year, I feel that the finer details revealed this week are totally unfair. It has been confirmed that investments made by marts in 2020 will not be eligible as part of the scheme.”
“So now the department expects livestock marts to go out and spend more money, that they don’t have, in order to avail of a maximum grant of €5,000 – which covers just 50% of expenditure.”
Investments in 2020 ineligible
In announcing the scheme this week, the minister praised livestock marts for providing a critical service to farmers during 2020 – with online sales taking centre stage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All marts moved online in 2020 to accommodate these online sales, with considerable investments required to do so. Now, marts are being told the investments they made last year will not be eligible for this scheme, which I feel is totally unacceptable.”
“Marts have already borne the brunt of the costs and continue to make excessive payments when it comes to insurance etc. When this scheme was initially mooted, marts welcomed it as a needed boost.”
“Now, I fear that the uptake will be very little as marts may not have the funds to make further investments in ICT this year having already done so just a few months ago.”
He called on Minister McConalogue to make the scheme “more beneficial” for marts.