After the experience of the first tranche of the Tier 2 Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) the chair of the Agricultural Consultants’ Association (ACA) in NI, David Rankin, has warned farmers to think carefully before submitting an Expression of Interest (EoI) form.

To be eligible to make a full application at some point in the future, the EoI must be completed by 4pm on Friday 13 August. The Tier 2 scheme provides 40% grant funding for large scale projects costing over £30,000, up to a maximum grant of £250,000.

Rankin has urged interested farmers to consider the following:

  • The market for your product – this will help in preparing a financial plan.
  • Whether planning permission and/or ammonia assessments will be required.
  • How long quotes for equipment and building work will be relevant for.
  • Can it be completed in the necessary 12-month timescale?
  • Is there finance in place?
  • The cost of completing the application.
  • “Our experience would suggest that an application and business plan could take up to 40 hours to complete for the more complex projects. The application is not a tick-box exercise. Also, the engineers’ specifications, air modelling report and the detailed financial assessment of the project will not be cheap,” said Rankin.

    A similar warning has been issued by the chairman of the NI Agricultural Producers’ Association (NIAPA) James Lowe.

    “Our advice is to study what is on offer but more importantly which is needed for the long-term sustainability of your business,” said Lowe.

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