Details of capital investment scheme for farms announced

The capital element of a scheme to improve Northern Ireland farms will be available this month

A CAPITAL investment scheme to help improve farms across Northern Ireland is set to open later this month.

Details of the capital element of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme have been announced by agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen.

And she admitted it comes at a difficult time for many farmers.

The initiative is broken into two tiers with those seeking investments to support projects costing more than £30,000 considered larger scale.

"I am conscious that those applying to the scheme will be taking on additional investments at a time when many sectors have felt the impact of low prices and market volatility," said Ms McIlveen.

"Both tiers of the scheme will therefore require an indication of support letter from a bank, or other lending institution, to confirm that the applicant can access funds to complete their project.

"This is especially important for tier two which will drive larger scale, transformational investment in projects costing over £30,000."

Ms McIlveen added that larger scale projects would also require extensive business planning if they are to receive backing.

"All applicants to tier two will have to develop and submit a robust business plan which shows that they have carefully planned their investment; it is viable, affordable, and meets the objectives of the scheme," she said.

"It is essential to show in the application how each of the proposed projects applied for will make a difference, in transforming our farms into more sustainable, efficient and safer businesses.

“To support farmers in considering projects, my department has developed the farm investment planner mapping tool. It is designed to assist the farmer with mapping existing and potential capital investment. Applicants for tier two projects involving construction will be required to submit a farm investment planner map outlining their proposed construction project.”

It is the latest phase in the improvement scheme which Ms McIlveen described as "a package of measures which will help support sustainable growth in the sector".

"I am delighted to see that there has already been interest in the tools we made available last month," she added.

"In particular a large number of farmers have already completed the on-line ‘Making it Safer’ farm safe risk assessment tool. I would encourage all farmers to complete this assessment on-line, not just those who will need it for an application to the FBIS - capital scheme. It is also encouraging that farmers are completing the farm safe awareness module; although not required for the scheme, it is an important tool in improving awareness of key risks on the farm.”

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