Just over half of all successful applicants to the latest phase of the Tier I capital grant scheme have submitted claims for grant funding. A spokesperson for DAERA said 1,183 claims have been submitted so far, which equates to 51% of scheme participants.

The fourth tranche of the scheme, which provides grant funding for equipment and machinery costing between £5,000 and £30,000, saw 2,323 letters of offer issued to successful applicants.

The target budget for this phase of Tier I is £10m and the claims submitted so far equate to £5.45m. Tier I participants have six months from the date on their letter of offer to purchase items and submit a claim for grant funding, although extensions are available if there are delays with suppliers.

The DAERA spokesperson said 184 successful applicants have not submitted a claim within the letter of offer term so far, and these farmers are considered to have dropped out of the scheme.

However, reports suggest more applicants are having second thoughts about proceeding to buy equipment and submit grant claims.

It stems from tight cashflow on farms at present, as the current financial situation facing many farmers is very different to this time last year, when Tier I opened for applications.

The rising cost of machinery and equipment is the other factor making some farmers re-consider proceeding with the grant scheme.

Quotes from suppliers for many items have continued to move upwards, and so DAERA’s reference prices for calculating maximum grant rates have moved further off the mark. In addition, many farmers applied for lower grant rates to help prioritise their application under “value for money” criteria.

It all means that very few applicants will be able to obtain the maximum grant rate of 40% of eligible costs.