Funding for farm modernisation scheme announced

The announcement that funding has been made available for a third tranche of the Farm Modernisation Scheme has been welcomed by local farmers.

On Tuesday Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill confirmed that £5.5 million had been secured to support farm businesses making small scale capital investments.

Confirming the funding the Minister said, “This scheme has proved to be extremely popular and beneficial to the farming community and I know that news of the third tranche has been much anticipated.

“I have recently received approval from the European Commission to make changes to the Rural Development Programme to allow me to make available funding for a third tranche of the scheme,” she said.

“The total funding for this tranche is £5.5 million and this is an additional £1.4 million to what was originally planned. This will allow more farmers to benefit from the scheme and will provide significant support and a much needed boost to farmers and the wider economy in the current difficult economic climate.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union welcomed the announcement and said the unexpected increased funding should mean more farms will benefit. UFU President John Thompson said that the major problem with previous tranches was that they were under-funded.

“We will also be encouraging the Minister to ensure all the funds are ultimately allocated and that there is no scheme under-spend,” he said.

“We look forward to contributing to the consultation opened by the Minister and our aim will be to see the funding released as quickly as possible into the farming community.

“To date over £8 million has been allocated to farmers in the previous two schemes and this has had a very positive effect on the wider rural economy as well as assisting farm businesses to modernise.” 

The UFU chief added that his organization was keen to see younger farmers being prioritized for funding. “The UFU has from the outset advocated support in particular for younger farmers and it is our expectation for Tranche 3 of the scheme that young farmers will be prioritised.”

Consultation on the scheme will run from today (February 16) until April 18, after which it is anticipated to open as soon as possible, following administrative preparations.