The window for applications to the second tier of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme in Northern Ireland has opened.

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Michelle McIlveen believes the scheme will provide grant support to farmers who are ready to make an investment to transform their farm business

The focus of the second tier is on transformational investment in projects costing in excess of £30,000 (€35,500).

Funding is provided at a grant rate of 40% of eligible costs, with £250,000 (€296,600) the maximum grant available under the scheme.

Minister McIlveen wished to remind farmers that the focus of the second tier is on larger-scale investment, to support sustainable growth in the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

Given the scale of investment involved, I want to encourage farmers to plan their projects carefully. It is aimed at those who have developed a robust business plan.

“I encourage all potential applicants for tier 2 to visit the DAERA website before embarking on this application process.

“They should familiarise themselves with the steps involved in completing a tier 2 application and the tools that are available to help,” the Minister said.

Any applicants to the second tier of the scheme must propose their projects through a business plan which will be assessed against a number of key themes.

These themes will include the contribution to sustainable growth, environment, weather resistance and climate change, animal and plant health, occupational health and safety, as well as production and resource efficiency.

The second tier is is primarily for construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment linked to the needs in the farmer’s business plan.

The deadline for applications to the second tier of the scheme will close at 4pm on February 24, 2017.

First Tier of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme

The first tier of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme closed on Friday, December 16, with over 3,500 applications received for this portion of the scheme.

A total of £7.5m (€8.9m) of funding is available for the first tranche of applications, while letters of offer are due to begin issuing at the end of January, according to DAERA.

Minister McIIveen was impressed with the level of interest in the first tier of the scheme.

I am particularly pleased that over 98% of applications were submitted online. Also, it is encouraging that so many took the opportunity to complete farm safety assessments.

“These were not only an essential part of the application process, but a practical way for farmers to be aware of safety on their premises,” the Minister said.

The DAERA website includes some information tools to help with an application to the second tier of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme.