NI farm business improvement scheme to open in January

Farmers in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for funding worth up to £250,000 for construction projects or to buy higher-value equipment from next month.

The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) has announced that the application window for tier 2 of the Farm Business Improvement Grant will open on 10 January 2022.

The scheme is designed to support larger-scale investments that will bring about a step-change in the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

See also: Read more from Farmers Weekly about grants and schemes

It will provide grants of 40% of eligible costs for on-farm investments costing more than £30,000. The maximum grant available is £250,000.

However, only farmers and growers who have previously submitted an expression of interest will be able to make an application to the scheme when it opens.

Daera ran a series of online information events in October for potential applicants, which it says generated a “significant number” of expressions of interest.

Application process

Applicants will be required to submit a business plan, which shows what difference the proposed project will make in transforming their farm into a more sustainable, efficient and safer business.

All projects that involve construction or the extension of buildings will require planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness to be in place before a full application to the scheme is submitted.

Successful applicants will have a maximum of one year to complete their project.

The deadline for applications is 4pm on 1 April 2022.

Claims deadline for SACGS

Farmers in Scotland have until 31 December to submit their claims for the pilot Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grants Scheme (SACGS).

The scheme was launched in 2020 to provide farmers with funding to purchase specific items of agricultural equipment that will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the deadline for claims has had to be moved twice because of the delays farmers have faced in trying to source equipment at a time when supply chains have been affected by Brexit and Covid-19.

Claims must be supported with invoices and a bank statement as proof of payment.

Items delivered or claimed after 31 December 2021 will not be eligible for payment.