Over a third of all successful applicants in the latest phase of the Tier 1 grant scheme have not yet submitted claims to draw down grant funding.
DAERA figures indicate 2,914 successful applicants received letters of offer last year, but only 1,910 claims have been received so far.
There have been significant delays in getting machinery and equipment on to farms because of ongoing disruption in international supply chains, as well as increased demand locally due to the £15m grant scheme.
Cost of equipment
Also, the cost of equipment has surged since initial grant applications were submitted in December 2020. For example, sources in the machinery trade suggest slurry equipment is now up to 30% more expensive than the reference prices which were set by DAERA for the third phase of Tier 1.
It means the level of grant funding which was approved for each application is now covering less of the total cost.
With all other costs at record highs on farms at present, some successful Tier 1 applicants are re-considering if a capital investment is the right thing to do.
However, the Department has been keen to accommodate all successful Tier 1 applicants who have faced delays in getting equipment delivered. “DAERA is in regular contact with suppliers and applicants and have been flexible in offering extensions when needed,” a Department spokesperson said.
Initial scheme rules stated successful applicants were to have four months from the date on their letter of offer to buy items and submit claims for grant funding. This was extended to nine months for all low-emission slurry spreading equipment and another six-month blanket extension was later granted.
“Approximately one-third of these have been approved for an additional three-month extension to enable applicants extra time to complete their projects,” the DAERA spokesperson confirmed.
It is understood that a number of Tier 1 applicants had paid deposits to have equipment supplied by Newrock Engineering.
As reported in recent weeks, farmers dealing with Newrock have faced delays in getting equipment due to ongoing issues at the Co Armagh firm.
DAERA confirmed that some recipients of the latest three-month extension include customers of the company.
“This category includes applicants who had sought equipment from Newrock,” the Department spokesperson said.
“All applicants are reminded that if they need an extension a request must be submitted along with their reasons before their current letter of offer expires,” the spokesperson added.