Farmers in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from an extra £4m of funding to help modernise farm technology and improve the industry’s competitiveness.
The additional £4.1m will been added to the £11m Farm Modernisation Programme
Michelle Gildernew, agriculture and rural development minister, said the finding programme would open to farmers later in the year.
“Funding made available to farm businesses under the first two tranches of the FMP will exceed £11m, leveraging around £30m of investment in the rural economy,” she said.
“This additional funding, subject to EU approval, will be welcome news to farmers in the current economic climate.”
Mrs Gildernew said the programme was launched in an effort to help farmers who found it difficult to modernise their businesses and wanted to improve their production techniques.
About 2500 farmers are expected to benefit from funding, which will provide support towards plant machinery and equipment under six areas, including improving animal health and welfare, increasing product storage and enchancing occupational safety.
“In my view, it would seem appropriate to target those who are in most need and this may be achieved through use of Single Farm Payments data,” Mrs Gildernew said.
“It would also seem appropriate to prioritise funding for those who haven’t received assistance from previous tranches.
“Young farmers and the use of electronic communications will also remain a priority for this scheme.”
Mrs Gildernew said DARD officials would consult industry representatives over the coming weeks to develop selection criteria to decide who would be eligible for funding.
“Final decisions on the selection criteria will be informed by the planned Equality Impact Assessment, which will be conducted before the summer.”