Mona O’Donoghue Concannon, chair of the Women in Agriculture Stakeholders Group, has expressed concerns in relation to the eligibility criteria for the new Women Farmer Capital Investment Scheme.
The measure, according to the DAFM, provides an incentive to women farmers to upgrade their agricultural buildings and equipment by providing them with an increased level of support to meet the “considerable” capital costs associated with the establishment of their enterprises.
It is designed to promote gender equality, employment, generational renewal, social inclusion, local development in rural areas, improve efficiency and create environmental benefits, according to the DAFM.
The scheme is open to farmers who are:
- Age: More than 18 years and under 67 years of age at the date of submitting the application form;
- Identified as female on the Department’s Corporate Customer Management (CCM) system;
- Own or have leasehold title to the site on which it is proposed to carry out the development;
- Have a minimum of 5 hectares declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) or the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) or equivalent in the year of application or the preceding year;
- For tillage-related investments, have a minimum of 15 hectares of eligible crops (Annex H) declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) /Basic Income Support for Sustainability Scheme (BISS) or equivalent in the year of application or previous year;
- In the case of intensive enterprises, generate a minimum of 20 production units from farming;
- For equine investments only prior to submitting the online TAMS 3 application, have a minimum of 5 hectares of eligible land owned and/or leased or rented which has been declared under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and/or the Basic Income Support for Sustainability (BISS) or equivalent in the year of application or preceding year and a minimum of 3 equines declared on the equine census or equivalent in the year preceding application;
- The applicant must be named on the herd number for the holding, and the herd must have submitted an application on BPS for the 2022 reference year either as an individual/registered farm partnership or company;
- Where the reference year requirements are not met, Applicants must fulfil the requirement regarding occupational skill and competence on the date of application or within 36 months from the date of issue of department approval to the applicant to commence works. If this criterion is not met, the applicant will not be eligible for the 60% rate.
Grant aid is paid at the rate of 60% up to a maximum of €90,000 per holding, with a minimum amount of investment eligible for approval under this scheme of €2,000 per application.
The Galway native, however, has said that the criteria will lock “a lot of women” out of the measure.
During a DAFM webinar on the measure, she said: “We have identified gaps in this TAMS measure that we were trying to fill.”
“The idea of the TAMS was to get as many people as possible into the system, and while we understand that there has to be criteria and specifications, a lot of women are going to be excluded again from this.”
“So, we would like to talk to those women to see how we can work to the next programme. Anyone who would like to contact us, we are on social media on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter,” the Co Galway native added.
“This is the first step in working to the next greater goal,” concluded Mona, who previously clinched the Corrib Oil Lady Farmer of the Year title.
Female farmers in Ireland
Female farmers make up just 12% (16,100) of the 137,100 family farms in the country (CSO, 2016), and just 3.8% of farms are registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in joint female/male names.
Despite CSO figures showing that over a quarter of those working on farms (71,700) are women, their work is rarely officially recognised, and they are essentially treated as a minority group, WIASG has said.