Farmers in Northern Ireland have accepted 94% of offers made by the department under the latest tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital (FBIS-C).

FBIS-C Tier 1 is supported by DAERA and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. To date, the scheme has offered £43 million in support to local farmers and growers.

More than 2,900 Letters of Offer were issued to farmers and growers under the third tranche of Tier 1 of the FBIS-C, which closed on December 4, to support smaller-scale investments to improve the sustainability of farm businesses.

The third tranche has a budget of up to £15 million, and is being delivered by Countryside Services Limited on behalf of the department.

It follows the minister’s decision in January 2021 to double the amount of money available from £7.5 million, following a surge in response to his call for farm businesses to invest in Low Emissions Slurry Spreading Equipment (LESSE).

While a date has not yet been confirmed for a second tranche of Tier 2 of FBIS-Capital, which is designed to offer support to projects costing more than £30,000, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said he was keeping this "under review".

Minister Poots said: “I very much welcome the exceptional response to the third tranche of Tier 1 FBIS Capital, particularly for Low Emission Slurry Spreading Equipment. Over 2,700 successful applicants have accepted their Letters of Offer, just over half of which are for LESSE and other ammonia mitigating equipment.

In addition to having a key role in reducing ammonia emissions, the use of LESSE can play a significant part in increasing the nutrient available for crop growth from slurry application and reduces the potential for water contamination and nuisance odours.

“Farmers have demonstrated that they are keen to invest in up-to-date methods and technologies, to help develop their agriculture business into one that’s more sustainable and environmentally aware.”

Over 3,800 applications were received for the third tranche of the scheme, which 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.

Eligible applications were assessed against the following selection criteria with funding awarded to the highest scoring applications:

  • FBIS-C theme band;
  • Value for Money;
  • Not previously successful applicant;
  • Age of applicant; and
  • Educational Attainment.

Farmers who received a Letter of Offer were required to return their Form of Acceptance within 28 days of the date of the Letter of Offer.

Unsuccessful applicants have been notified along with details of the process to follow should they wish to seek a review of the decision not to fund their application.