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£250m Farm Business Improvement Scheme

£250m Farm Business Improvement Scheme
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has launched the first phase of the £250m Farm Business Improvement Scheme. This scheme will provide farmers with 40% and 50% grant aid to a maximum of £250,000 towards:
·          Construction of new farm buildings and refurbishment of existing buildings.
·          Purchase of machinery which can improve the performance of the farm.
·          Equipment to improve nutrient management.
·          Installation of environmentally approved water management systems.
·          Investments to improve resource efficiency on the farm.
·          Feasibility studies for renewable energy.
The first phase which was launched on Monday 9th November 2015 will establish ‘business development groups’.
The deadline for applying to this is 4pm on Monday 14th December.
These groups are designed to help farmers come together to learn about and enhance their knowledge of business management, new technologies and innovative ways of working. Farmers who participate in the BDG scheme will be required to attend several training events each year, be willing to undertake physical and financial benchmarking, share their farm performance information with other group members and be willing to host a visit for the group, during which members will discuss technical performance and progress towards meeting business objectives. As farmers work towards meeting their business objectives, they will have the opportunity to accredit their work and gain a Level 3 qualification. Farmers will also be given the opportunity to prepare their business plans for the second phase of the scheme which will open in March 2016.
The programme will meet costs incurred by the farmer – eligible claims will include replacement labour while they are attending training events, travel to and from training events and initial costs associated with analytical services. Where farmers attend all eight training events they will qualify for a payment of up to £490 per year. This payment is planned for the first two years of the programme and will then be reviewed. An allowance of up to £600 per visit for hosting a training event will also be payable, however this payment will be available to farmers throughout the lifetime of the scheme  
Applications and guidance notes are contained on this site: http://www.cafre.ac.uk/industry-support/business-development-groups/

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