UFU welcomes FBIS and calls for red tape to be minimised

Thursday, 27 October, 2016

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the opening of the Farm Business Investment Scheme (FBIS).  UFU Deputy President, Ivor Ferguson, said the UFU had been critical of the delays in getting this capital grant scheme off the ground – but now it is here he said the challenge is to get farmers using the scheme to help fund much needed improvements to farm businesses.

The FBIS is part of the NI Rural Development Programme.  Because it focusses on practical improvements at farm level, the UFU views it as a key element in delivering production efficiencies, health and safety and environmental improvements. Forty million pounds has been secured for two tranches, the first opening on (Monday 31st October) and the second (Tranche 2) is expected in autumn 2017.  Further funding could be made available if the scheme is successful.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers.  The future for all businesses depends on investing to make them as efficient as possible and the FBIS will encourage this.” said Mr Ferguson.  “We are pleased to see the scheme open as we were frustrated at the slow progress until now.  However, we are concerned about the lack of consultation around DAERA’s plans for the larger projects in Tier 2.  We are keen that both Tiers should be implemented in ways that minimise red tape, although we do recognise that with the level of public funding available for Tier 2 more paperwork will be required,” said the UFU deputy president.

The UFU says it believes both tiers of the FBIS programme will have a significant impact at farm level, helping with investments farmers know are needed, but which they have struggled to afford because of poor returns. “We are pleased that our lobbying has ensured that fencing is included in the programme.  This is something our members repeatedly told us they needed and we raised this with the Department. However, we have some concerns how it will be rolled out.  The UFU will be monitoring the implementation of the FBIS capital scheme and will continue to press for it to be practical and workable so that farmers can benefit from it,” said Mr Ferguson.

The UFU is encouraging members to attend the DAERA Roadshows to hear more about the scheme and to talk to officials about the various requirements.