Agricultural grant scheme will give £40million to thousands of farms across Northern Ireland

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen has officially launched the Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital.

The £40million initiative will award grants of £2,000 and upwards to agricultural businesses.

The Minister said: “This scheme is an important investment by the Executive, through my department, in farms today and farming in the future. It offers significant support for capital projects on farms, and aims to fund sustainable growth in the industry.”

Farmers had been encouraged to begin preparations in advance for the opening of the scheme. Key features of the initiative were highlighted at an early stage, with online tools available to assist with aspects of the process.

The Minister said: “This year, there has been a particular emphasis on improving farm safety and investing in the farmers of tomorrow.

“I want to ensure that we invest in the next generation of farmers and those committed to developing themselves and their farm practices. Also, safety is an ongoing issue and I am pleased that a large number of farmers have already completed the online ‘Making it Safer’ Farm Safe risk assessment tool.”

FBIS – Capital is a two-tiered programme which supports on-farm investment projects costing £5,000 and above. Tier 1 aims to improve the sustainability of farms and Tier 2 aims to drive transformational investment guided by a robust business planning process. The scheme will remain open for applications until 16 December 2016 for Tier 1, and will accept applications for Tier 2 between 19 December 2016 and 24 February 2017.

The Minister encouraged those interested in the scheme to visit the Department’s website, and to consider attending one of the information road show events being held between 7 and 17 November 2016.

The Minister concluded: “The Farm Business Improvement Scheme offers a package of measures which will help to transform our farms into more sustainable, efficient and safer businesses. This is not only good for farming and the agri-food industry, but also the wider Northern Ireland economy.”

Further information on the scheme and available tools can be found on the DAERA website.

Notes to editors:
1. Tier 1 of the scheme will support smaller scale investments to improve the sustainability of farm businesses. All successful projects costing from £5,000 – £30,000 will attract funding and it is primarily aimed at the purchase of equipment and machinery.
2. Tier 2 will drive larger scale, transformational investment in projects costing from £30,000 to an unlimited amount and will attract funding to a maximum grant of £250,000. Its focus is on construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment linked to the needs in the farmer’s business plan.
3. Further information on the scheme, including details on how to apply, can be found on the DAERA website.
4. DAERA are holding a number of roadshows, to provide information on the Scheme to potential applicants:
• CAFRE, Enniskillen, Monday 7 November
• CAFRE, Loughry, Wednesday 9 November
• CAFRE, Greenmount, Thursday 10 November
• Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, Monday 14 November
• Millbrook Lodge, Ballynahinch, Wednesday 16 November
• Armagh City Hotel, Thursday 17 November