farm in County Tyrone© Design Pics Inc/Rex/Shutterstock

Northern Irish farmers will soon be able to apply for up to £250,000 of grant funding under the Farm Business Improvement Capital scheme.

Details of the scheme, which opens in October, have just been released by agriculture minister Michelle McIlveen.

The grants will cover 40% of all eligible costs and will operate at two levels – Tier 1 for projects valued at between £5,000 and £30,000 designed to improve the sustainability of farms, and Tier 2 for projects above £30,000.

See also: NI farmers to get BPS advance to ease cashflow woes

A total of £40m has been put aside for the scheme, which aims to help farmers in the province upgrade their businesses.

Tier 1 is primarily aimed at the purchase of equipment and machinery, while Tier 2 is designed to drive larger-scale investments, such as construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment.

“I want to ensure that we invest in the next generation of farmers and those committed to developing themselves and their farm practices,” said Ms McIlveen.

“The capital scheme will therefore favour both young farmers and qualified farmers at the selection stage.”

Be prepared

Farmers are being encouraged to start preparing for their applications now. This will include submitting a Category 1 Farm Business ID and providing a Make it Safer self-assessment certificate as part of their application.

The Ulster Farmers Union has welcomed the announcement of this so-called “preparation stage” ahead of the full scheme launch.

“There has been a lot of interest in the Capital Scheme and it is vital it is rolled out as quickly as possible,” said UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson.

There was keen interest in using the scheme for upgrading fences and erecting new fencing, he added and urged the minister to include this in the scheme.