Funding to help farmers in Northern Ireland buy new equipment and machinery will increase from £7.5m to £15m, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) has announced.
The third tranche of Tier 1 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) opened on 2 November after more than a two-year gap since it was last available, and almost 4,000 farm businesses have already applied.
Edwin Poots, minister for agriculture, environment and rural affairs, said the scheme’s budget was being doubled to help address the problem of the air pollutant ammonia.
Ammonia mainly comes from slurry and can affect air and water quality, as well as sensitive habitats.
Farmers have been encouraged to use the scheme to invest in low emission slurry spreading equipment such as a trailing hose, trailing shoe, soil incorporation or soil injection methods.
Grants up to a maximum of £12,000 are available to cover 40% of the cost for machinery or equipment from a list of approved items costing between £5,000 and £30,000.
Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) deputy president David Brown said this extra funding will have positive benefits for the environment, the rural economy and the sustainability of Northern Ireland’s agriculture industry.
“It’s really encouraging that the high interest from farmers particularly to invest in low emission slurry spreading equipment was the driving force behind the funding increase,” said Mr Brown.
“This equipment has huge benefits for the environment and it highlights that our farmers are willing to embrace new technology and deliver environmental benefits and farm efficiencies any way they can.”
The UFU has urged Daera to progress with the two further tranches of the FBIS that in 2020 it indicated would be possible.
Eligible applicants of Tier 1 will receive letters of offer from early February.
“Farmers who receive a letter of offer should read the conditions carefully and ensure they can meet all the requirements to access the funding,” said Mr Brown.
“If in doubt, contact Countryside Services for advice.”