West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Farmers urged to complete Whole Farm Needs Assessment

Published: 4 March, 2015

West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has urged farmers who wish to secure funding through the £250 million Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) to complete the Whole Farm Needs Assessment (WFNA) before the 3rd April deadline. He was speaking after members of the DARD committee received an update from department officials on the progress of the FBIS.

"The officials confirmed that the FBIS, along with the remainder of the RDP (2014-20) is presently awaiting approval by the European Commission and that work is ongoing with DFP on the approval for the outline business case.

"They explained that the WFNA will greatly assist farmers to plan ahead, identify their business needs and any potential barriers. Importantly, the survey findings will also provide valuable information to DARD to help shape the new FBIS so that it matches the needs of the industry.

"The WFNA was trialled and tested in CAFRE workshops and among farming organisations until it was refined into a relatively simplified and user-friendly format. It would be important for farmers to recognise that the survey is there to help them prepare for the farm Business Investment Scheme but is a separate document from the schemes application form which will be available later in the year.

The WFNA was launched by Minister Michelle O'Neill MLA: "The FBIS is a very important element of our draft Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. This survey will give farmers an opportunity to inform us of the barriers they face in meeting their business objectives and will provide the information we need to shape the FBIS to best meet their needs.

"It will also help farmers critically assess their business and make the right decisions as they plan ahead for the next few years. I would encourage all farmers to consider using this tool."

The survey and accompanying information is now available on www.dardni.gov.uk and may be completed online or in hard copy. The survey will close on Friday 3 April 2015.