FBIS Tier 1 funding doubled to £15 million

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has doubled funding for the latest tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) – Capital to £15 million.

He took the decision following the huge response to his call for farm businesses to invest in low emissions slurry spreading (LESS) equipment.

More than 3,800 farm businesses stuck in bids for the third round of the scheme, which closed on December 4.

Tier 1 of the scheme supports smaller-scale investments to improve the sustainability of farm businesses – such as the purchase of equipment and machinery costing between £5,000 and £30,000 from a list of eligible items.

Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to see such a positive response to the third tranche of Tier 1 FBIS Capital, particularly for LESS equipment. It highlights the willingness of our farmers and growers to invest in the sustainability of their businesses.

“I want to support that willingness to invest by doubling the allocation for this tranche from £7.5 million to £15 million.

This will have a positive knock-on effect for many local agricultural and horticultural supply businesses and will contribute to my aim to develop a sustainable agricultural industry in Northern Ireland.

Letters of Offer will begin to issue for eligible applications from next week, commencing with those receiving the highest score and continuing over a number of weeks until the available budget is fully allocated.

Farmers who receive a Letter of Offer should read it carefully and, if prepared to accept the terms and conditions of the scheme, must complete and return their Form of Acceptance within 28 days of the date of the Letter of Offer.

The scheme will be delivered by Countryside Services Limited on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Eligible applications will be ranked according to the FBIS-C, Tier 1 (Tranche 3) selection criteria and the available funding will be awarded to the highest scoring applications.

Eligible applications will be assessed against the following selection criteria:

  • FBIS-C theme band;
  • Value for money;
  • Not previously been a successful applicant;
  • Age of applicant; and
  • Educational attainment.

When all Letters of Offer have been issued, unsuccessful applicants will be notified along with details of the process to follow should they wish to seek a review of the decision not to fund their application.

Will there be a Tier 2 tranche 2?

Whilst a date has not yet been confirmed for opening a second tranche of Tier 2 of FBIS-Capital – the variant of the scheme designed to offer support to projects costing more than £30,000 – a spokesperson for the department confirmed the minister is keeping this under review.

“Any further capital support will take into account any further guidance developed by the department on ammonia reduction and mitigation, and would be subject to funding availability,” the spokesperson added.

“DAERA is working to develop a comprehensive and proportionate package of measures on ammonia and hope to consult on a strategy later this year.”