The second round of Northern Ireland’s Farm Business Improvement Scheme Tier 1 grant will open for applications in the new year.

It’s estimated that a total of £7.5 million will be set aside for the second tranche of Tier 1. However, the end amount will be subject to budget availability in 2018-19.

Up to £30,000 – at a grant rate of funding of up to 40% of eligible costs – will be made available to individual farmers to be spent on technology which would make their businesses more sustainable.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture (DAERA) announced that it will officially unveil the second tranche of Tier 1 of the ‘Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital’ next week, to give interested farmers and growers time to prepare.

Dates for your diary

The second tranche of Tier 1 will open for applications on January 4, 2018. The application period will close at 4:00pm on February 2, 2018.

It will support the purchase of equipment and machinery, costing from £5,000 to £30,000, from a list of eligible items, including:

  • GPS fertiliser sowers;
  • Seed drills;
  • Sprayers;
  • Ventilation systems for sheds;
  • Slurry separators;
  • Automatic scrapers;
  • Heat detection systems;
  • Automatic calf feeders;
  • Bale splitters;
  • Zero grazing machines;
  • Apple bin fillers;
  • Robotic feed passage equipment.

‘Smaller scale investments’

Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme is designed to support smaller scale investments that will improve the sustainability of farm businesses.

More information on the scheme and how to apply will be available from mid-December on the DAERA website.

This will include information on scheme documentation, eligibility and selection criteria, and a revised list of eligible items. Grant support under this tranche will be subject to budget availability.

Under the first tranche of Tier 1, so far almost 1,200 farmers have received grant aid totalling almost £5.5 million, with total claims worth nearly £7.2 million.

Tier 2 update

A second tranche of Tier 2 is also planned, but no details have yet been released about when this will open.

A spokesman for the department said: “Decisions on this will be subject to a review of the lessons learned from the first tranche and funding availability.”

The Farm Business Improvement Scheme Tier 1 is delivered by Countryside Services on behalf of DAERA.