Tranche 3 Letters of Offer in the post next week

11th January 2013

COUNTRYSIDE Agri-Rural Partnership managing director David Mark has confirmed that initial checks on all applications received for Tranche 3 of the Farm Modernisation Programme have now been completed.

He added: “We will shortly commence the process of sending out Letters of Offer to successful applicants. To this end, we hope to begin posting out to the top scoring applicants next week, and will then move down the merit order, releasing Letters of Offer to remaining successful applicants over the coming weeks.

“Farmers who receive Letters of Offer will need to acknowledge the offer by returning the ‘Form of Acceptance’ to Countryside Agri Rural Partnership within 21 days. They can then commence negotiations to achieve the best price from suppliers and purchase the items. Once the items are delivered and paid for, farmers can then make a claim for payment.”

Mr Mark continued: “We are committed to providing an excellent level of service to all claimants and the approval process will be as fast as possible. Clearly there will be some periods of intense activity as the bulk of claims for payment will most likely arrive with us in the summer of 2013. However we are confident we will be able to handle the demand.”

Tranche 3 of the Farm Modernisation element of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme (NIRDP) closed for applications on October 19th last. The programme is being delivered on behalf of DARD by the Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership.

“For this tranche we received almost 6,400 applications, with over 90% of the applications being registered online,” Mr Mark further explained.

“We are very pleased with the online system which we have worked with DARD to develop, as it enables us to deal with applications in a timely and efficient manner. We have also had great support from a range of organisations that helped farmers to access the internet and provided practical support for online applications. These include the UFU, NIAPA and Rural Support Networks.

“This current tranche has funding of £5.5m, so along with the farm business contribution it has the capacity to deliver a £13.75m boost into the local agri supply industry. The Farm Modernisation Program to date has delivered £9.2M in funding so the potential total investment by farmers in the programme is a very significant £36.75M.”

Mr Mark concluded: “We would encourage all farm businesses to make full use of this funding opportunity to modernise, and avoid the under spend experienced in the previous Farm Modernisation Programme. Indeed we would encourage farmers to avail of all the measures that we are currently delivering under the NIRDP, including Focus Farms, Benchmarking, Supply Chain Development and Family Farm Options - Mentoring and Skills.

“These programmes are all performing very well with awareness and participation levels on the increase and tangible benefits being delivered to farmers and their families across Northern Ireland. We look forward to new challenges and building on these successes in the year ahead.”

Outlining progress Farming Minister Michelle O’Neill onfirmed that the first Letters of Offer to be released under the third Tranche of the FMP will be issued next week to those applicants which received maximum marks.

“I can also confirm that the release of funds will continue over the coming weeks to all those successful applicants, a process that will see the allocation of over £7million. Combined with matching funding from the farming community Tranche 3 will equate to a total investment in the rural economy of £13.75million,” she added.

“Farm businesses have 21 days to respond to the Delivery Agent, Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership, accepting their Letter of Offer, and I would ask them to ensure that the Form of Acceptance is returned to Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership within this timescale so they do not miss out on this opportunity to modernise their enterprise.

“The delivery of funds under the FMP to farmers on the ground will be very welcome news in the current economic climate and I look forward to seeing the results. Farmers are once again able to invest in their farms and local rural communities with help from FMP funding, and it is my intention that the claims are processed and paid out as quickly as possible.”

Farm Modernisation Programme is funded by the EU under Axis 1 of Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.