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Gildernew announces new £7million tranche of Farm Modernisation funding

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has announced the re-opening of the Farm Modernisation Programme (FMP) for applications from Monday 18October.

Making her announcement, the Minister said:  "Over 1,000 farmers benefited from Tranche One funding of the FMP last year, with over £4.3m provided by my Department and a total investment of over £10.5m in the rural economy. I can now confirm that the wait is over for Tranche Two of the FMP, which will be open for application for a six week period from Monday 18October until Friday 26 November 2010.”

She added “There will be no repeat of the 'first come, first served' approach to this second tranche of funding under FMP.  No funds will be allocated until the application period is over. All applications received will be scored individually at the end of the application period and those awarded the highest marks will receive funding from the £7million that I have made available for tranche two of FMP. I therefore urge anyone thinking of applying to take time to study the Explanatory Booklet before submitting an application form.”

The Minister also explained that in order to support the greater use of online facilities to access DARD key services and schemes, farmers are being encouraged to submit their applications electronically through the award of additional marks, although paper applications will continue to be accepted, by hand or by post.

Focusing on this element of Tranche Two of FMP, she said: "Understandably not everyone in the farming community are totally comfortable with using information technology.  However we have to realise that this is the way ahead for more rapid service delivery, reduced paperwork and less bureaucracy and a step-by-step guide has been produced for the online application.  In our Equality Impact Assessment Report for Tranche2, I emphasised that our FMP delivery agent, Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership will have a Helpline in place. This will offer down the line assistance for anyone who seeks help to either access the online process or for technical issues.

“I have also arranged for the Rural Support Networks to open up their offices to provide broadband access for farmers who do not have this facility.  DARD Rural Enterprise Advisers will also make themselves available and the UFU and NIAPA will work with their members too.  Indeed NIAPA is willing to take paper applications and submit them online for farmers.  I wish to thank all of them for their support on this issue, which will help ensure that all applicants have an opportunity to gain the marks available for submitting an online application.”

Concluding her announcement, the Minister said: “My objective with this tranche of FMP is to target disadvantage by focussing on those farms within the Less Favoured Areas, where a need for modernisation is great. FMP is about modernisation and those people who operate in difficult farming and environmental circumstances everyday. My intention is to ensure that those farmers should receive that modernisation opportunity within this second tranche of the Programme.

“I hope all eligible farmers will consider what FMP can offer to them to modernise their farm.  This could potentially represent an investment of over £15million in the rural economy when the farmers’ contribution is also added. FMP offers some long-awaited good news to the sector in a difficult economic climate. I am already looking forward towards a further tranche next year and considering how that might be focussed, possibly towards young farmers.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Explanatory Booklet, List of Eligible Items and Application Form will be available for collection in hard copy from DARD Direct Offices and from the Delivery Agent, Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership Limited, from Monday 18 October. These documents will also be made available to view online on the same date and can be accessed on the following websites:

www.dardni.gov.uk/index/grants-and-funding

www.countrysiderural.co.uk

www.dardni.gov.uk/index/rural-development/rdp-campaign.htm

2. The Modernisation of Agricultural Holdings is a key measure included under Axis 1 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007 – 2013. The first tranche of the Farm Modernisation Programme is funded under this measure by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

3. Under the Farm Modernisation Programme, financial support is provided towards a list of eligible modernising items of plant, machinery and equipment across the range of farming sectors under six key priority investment areas:

  • Introduction of New Technologies and Innovation;
  • Improved Animal Health and Welfare;
  • Increased Hygiene Control and Product Storage;
  • Enhanced Occupational Safety and Business Efficiency;
  • Increased Energy Efficiency; and
  • Enhanced Environmental Status.

4. In the first Tranche financial support was made available to successful farmers at up to 40% of the eligible cost of their project capped at £5,000 of grant per farm business. For Tranche 2 financial support will be capped at £4,000 per farm business.

5. Tranche 2 will close for applications at 4.00pm Friday 26 November 2010.

6. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440.