Newry & Armagh DUP Assembly election candidate and former Chairman of the Agriculture Committee William Irwin has spoken again of his concerns on the uncertainty surrounding the opening of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme.
Mr Irwin said he had been contacted by a number of farmers concerned that the scheme has still not opened and he said having the scheme operational would be a “boost for farming and local businesses” involved in the manufacture and sale of construction materials and farm equipment.
He stated: “It is disappointing that uncertainty still surrounds the opening of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, especially as I believe were the scheme currently operational, it would give our local economy a timely boost.
“I will be speaking again with officials on the need to urgently bring the scheme forward and have it opened to applications, as many farmers who have contacted me are keen to utilise this finance to improve their farm operations – as the scheme is designed to do,” he added.
“Also a concern is the fact farmers have not been given any firm details on what items will be eligible to claim for through the scheme and that is another element of uncertainty which the Department should move to rectify quickly. Farmers have been eagerly awaiting news of the scheme accepting applications for financial assistance and it would be an important boost for all those involved in the manufacture and retail of farming related equipment and construction materials. The manufacturing sector for agri-specific equipment is an important contributor to our economy and the FBIS will obviously provide a knock-on effect as farmers will be purchasing various items of equipment from local suppliers through the scheme.” Mr Irwin said it is important given the current financial situation on many farmers, that this scheme is quickly rolled out, as farmers waiting indefinitely on it becoming operational, without any firm opening date, only compounds issues.