Farm Modernisation Programme offers financial support for horticulturalists
Producers of mushrooms, field vegetables, protected crops, fruit crops, including apples and soft fruit can benefit from financial support under the Farm Modernisation Programme (FMP).
With next Friday, 19 October, the closing date for Tranche 3 FMP applications those in horticulture, a sector with a farmgate value of over £70 million to the NI economy, are reminded they are also eligible to apply under the FMP.
Financial support under the FMP has already proved useful to many in horticulture, who made successful applications in previous years. One such example is Gilford mushroom grower Conall McEvoy who used the FMP to fund the purchase of a range of specialist items. These included three ventilation fans, a controlled crop store evaporator unit, and a condensing unit with compressor for use in a controlled atmosphere crop store.
Unlike most other NI mushroom growers Conall markets directly to the UK mainland market. The items purchased with the aid of the FMP financial support has allowed him to produce the high quality mushrooms which are demanded by these outlets.
Successful in a very tough economic environment, the McEvoy family are continuing to expand their mushroom growing and marketing business.and in doing so generating additional employment and income for the rural community. Certainly Conall McEvoy would encourage others to consider applying under the current tranche of the FMP.
Commenting Dr Andrew Kerr at Countryside Agri Rural Partnership, who administer the FMP on behalf of DARD, also emphasised that grant applications will be considered right across the horticultural sector as well as in mainstream agriculture.
"However, I would urge farmers and growers not only to be aware of the looming deadline, but also to consider the wider implications of a successful application.
"A 40% grant up to a maximum payment of £4000 per farm business is attractive, but the other 60% of funding has to come from the applicant. A business can only justify this expenditure if the new equipment will boost efficiency and income!
"If so, take time to read how applications are assessed and ensure the person making the application is named on the farm business having already registered with DARD. To qualify for marks under the ‘succession opportunity’ a registered member of the farm business must be under 40 years of age on 31 January 2012.
Those with technical queries regarding FMP Tranche 3 items or needing assistance accessing the online application system should contact the Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership Helpline tel: 0845 0267 535.
Only one application can be submitted per farm business and may be made online via www.eugrants.org or with a hard copy application posted or handed into Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership or selected DARD offices.
The Farm Modernisation Programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.