South Down MP Margaret Ritchie MP has urged DAERA to review the current conditions of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, Tier 2 for capital projects costing from £30,000 primarily for construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment.
Ms Ritchie said she has been contacted by local farmers who have simply been unable to apply for this assistance with new build farm projects because the conditions of the scheme are such that only a largescale business could meet the requirements.
She added: “The application process and the compliance requirements of this scheme requires detailed administration and time consuming arrangements that are simply beyond the capacity of the busy small to medium sized farmer.
“I understand that all projects must be advertised at tender stage; a number of tenders received and assessed; the project itself would then be subject to a minimum five inspections and the work cannot be undertaken by the farmer but must be given to an outside contractor.
“This scheme was not designed with the majority of Northern Ireland farmers in mind.
“Northern Ireland farmers are not large-scale industrial agri businesses as may be the case in other parts of Europe.
“DAERA must urgently review this scheme and adapt it to meet the needs of the farming community.
“On many occasion DAERA’s advice to my constituents has been to apply for this scheme and now we find that the application and compliance requirements put it beyond the reach of the majority of our farming community.”