Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said he is concerned by the slow processing of applications to Tier 2 Tranche 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme.
Mr Irwin said he has been contacted by farmers who are concerned that some 10 months after applying to the scheme they have not been informed of the outcome of their applications something he said was “very frustrating for farmers”.
Mr Irwin added: “It is only a few weeks ago when I said that I felt the delays in the FBIS scheme would have a negative impact in terms of farmers being put off from wading through this bureaucracy and the uncertainty around the processing of applications. This is proving sadly to be an accurate picture that has developed.
“With only a hand full of approvals issued to date, I have received calls from farmers who having applied to the scheme 10 months ago, have yet to hear if their applications have been successful.
“It is concerning that little information has been relayed to farmers on the progress of their initial application and that does not bode well for future rounds of grant aid.”
He concluded: “It is really not good enough that this uncertainty and delay exists around a scheme that was designed to help farmers improve their farm businesses.
“It only serves to deepen the frustration of farmers who in many cases have spent money in preparing detailed applications to the scheme, only to find themselves wondering if they have wasted their time, money and effort. That is not a positive advert for the Farm Business Improvement Scheme and surely officials within the Department should realise this and move much more quickly to both inform farmers and ensure that applications are dealt with speedily.
“That is a message I will be bringing to the Department and it is imperative that officials get to grips with this issue.”