Extra £400,000 for FBI scheme

UFU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson
UFU Deputy President Ivor Ferguson

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed an announcement from DAERA that more funding is to be provided for the second tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme, Capital (FBIS-C).

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said it is great news that an additional £400,000 has been allocated to the second tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme. It is designed to support small scale investments that will improve the sustainability of farm businesses through the purchase of equipment and machinery, costing from £5,000 to £30,000, from a list of eligible items.

He said this will help farmers to invest in machinery and equipment which will improve the sustainability of their business and ultimately this will have a positive knock-on effect for the wider rural economy.

Mr Ferguson added: “Almost 3,000 farmers applied to the scheme with over 1,480 of them receiving letters of offer to date. This extra funding will help many farmers improve efficiencies, animal welfare, health and safety and deliver environmental benefits. However, despite the additional funding the scheme remains oversubscribed and we would call on DAERA to do what they can to find further additional funds for this popular scheme.”

A DAERA spokesperson commented: “The total budget for Tier 1 of the FBIS-C is £15million, and with £7.1million spent on tranche 1, the Department has confirmed that £7.9million will be available for this tranche.

“This increased budget for tranche 2 will help to ensure that the future sustainability of even more farms in Northern Ireland is achieved through capital investment in equipment that will also bring about improvements to the environment, animal and plant health, occupational health and safety and production efficiency.

“This additional funding will also help to ensure that the target spend of £15million over both tranches of this popular scheme is achieved and will be a further boost to the wider agricultural and horticultural economy.

“We would again stress to farmers that they should carefully follow the scheme rules as set out in their Letter of Offer. Countryside Services Ltd have an experienced team in place to assist farmers and deal with any of their queries and can be contacted on 0845 026 7535 or via email to: tier1@countrysideservices.com.”

To date 1,480 Letters of Offer for grant totalling £7.5million have been issued. Letters of Offer will continue to issue to eligible applications on a weekly basis to those receiving the highest score until the available budget is fully allocated. It is expected that unsuccessful applicants will be notified by early June.

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 to the FBIS-C, Tier 1 Delivery Agent, Countryside Services Ltd, within 28 days of the date of the Letter of Offer.

Farmers are reminded that they must only purchase the items as set out in the project schedule of the Letter of Offer and all items for which grant has been awarded must be purchased.

If these key requirements are not met, financial reductions and penalties may be imposed on any claim for grant received.

Successful farmers have four months from the date of the Letter of Offer to complete their purchases and submit their claim.