West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has urged farmers applying for the current tranche of the Farm Modernisation Programme to consider their applications carefully to ensure that they are awarded the maximum possible points across each of the four criteria.
According to Mr Mc Aleer "The Farm Modernisation Programme is aimed at Farmers to enable them to update machinery, invest in modern technology or purchase equipment to make their business more efficient and sustainable.
“Applicants can gain a maximum of 115 points across four criteria including Degree of Modernisation (60 points), Succession opportunity (35 points), E-communication (10 points) and Not successful in previous tranches (10 points).
“I have spoken to a number farmers in recent weeks who were effectively ‘underselling’ themselves by omitting key information such as failing to mention that they, or other registered members of the farm business were under 40 years old on 31st January 2012.This could have resulted in such applicants missing out on 35 points in the succession opportunity category.
"Another farmer I spoke to was planning to hand in a hard copy of her application, whereas she could have gained an additional 10 points for submitting it online via the European Union funding programmes website. Mr Mc Aleer continued
"Farmers should also be mindful the under the degree of modernisation category items of eligible equipment are segregated into 3 bands – Most modernising (60 points), Intermediate (45 points) and Least modernising (30 points).
"It is extremely important to note that the points awarded for this category will be that of the least modernising item.So, for example if a farmer applies for three items of equipment, two from band 1 (most modernising) and the other from band 3 (least modernising), the maximum score they will achieve for this category is 30 points.
“Over 2,900 farm businesses have benefitted from the programme since 2010 and I am confident that the demand for this current round will be high.This latest tranche will see a further investment of £5.5 million in local farms and I want to make sure that farmers maximise their chances of being successful.
"The closing date for applications is 4.00pm on 19 October 2012 and if applicants need advice or information, they should call the Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership Helpline on 0845 0267 535 or drop into their local DARD office”.