Up to £250,000 in funding available for farm investments in the North

A £40m capital funding scheme designed to help farmers across Northern Ireland improve their businesses is to open on Monday.

The Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen announced the opening of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme yesterday.

“This scheme, worth £40m over the first two tranches in its initial phase, represents a significant investment to support the industry’s ambitions,” she said.

The capital element of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme is a two-tiered programme which supports on farm investment projects costing £5,000 and above.

Tier 1

Under Tier 1 of the scheme, capital 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.

Tier 2

Tier 2 of the scheme 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.

The scheme has a particular emphasis on improving farm safety and investing in the farmers of tomorrow.

The Minister said that clearly, the North has many high quality farm businesses run by very able people within Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry.

“Since taking up the office of Minister, I have met with a broad cross section of people from the agri-food industry. I have listened to their views, hopes and concerns for the future.”

I have been clear from the outset that delivering a sustainable and competitive agriculture sector is paramount for me as DAERA Minister and for the Northern Ireland Executive as a whole.

“I understand the value of Direct Payments to farms and the stability this income can provide, especially at times of extreme market volatility. That is why, from the moment I was appointed, I was determined to introduce Advance Payments to assist with farmers’ immediate cash-flow difficulties.

“Northern Ireland is the first part of the United Kingdom to introduce advance payments. This week I was delighted to announce that over 90% of eligible farmers across Northern Ireland have now received advance payments, with more than 21,000 local farm businesses having now received 70% of their 2016 Basic Payment allocation.

“My Department is committed to making 95% complete payments by the end of December 2016 – very good news for our farm businesses.”