Irwin concern over FMP Tranche 3 Delay

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Monday, May 28th, 2012
Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Stormont Agriculture Committee member William Irwin MLA has spoke of his concern at the on-going delay in rolling out Tranche 3 of the Farm Modernisation Programme. Irwin was briefed along with other committee members at last Tuesday’s Agriculture Committee meeting on the progress of the third Tranche however he was disappointed that officials predict a delay until late summer or autumn before applications can commence. Speaking to Newry Times, he stated, “This is quite concerning, especially following assurances earlier in the year on the progress of the scheme and farmers being informed of the benefits the Farm Modernisation Programme could bring to their farms. In my opinion, this is a key time of the year for farmers who wish to upgrade their operations, yet the Department instead of getting this scheme rolling, are talking of more delays.” “I raised my concerns directly with the officials at the meetings and made it clear that the scheme should be operational at this stage to give farmers a good chance of applying for what they need and get the benefits of the scheme.” He continued, “It is imperative that the department gets on with this third Tranche immediately and get the scheme open to applications as it will be an important source of funding for the industry assisting not only farmers but also suppliers. After two previous Tranches lessons should now have been learned and the Minister should be getting this scheme rolling without any further delay.” Referring to adjustments to the application criteria Irwin said, “There have been some changes to the qualifying criteria that I welcomed at the meeting including the fact that those who did not receive a letter of offer in either of the previous two schemes or those who didn’t apply will be awarded 10 marks. This is a realistic and sensible improvement and no doubt will be an incentive to farmers who were unsuccessful last time to reapply in his new Tranche.” “One fear I do have though is on the banding of points in terms of the degree of modernisation a particular piece of equipment would provide. The proposal is to operate three bands of scoring: top, middle and lower however I made the point that what each farmer feels is important to their particular farm may not necessarily be seen by DARD as having a high degree of modernisation.” He added, “Yet for the farm in question, it may perfectly meet a requirement or solve a problem but could possibly carry a low score and therefore the farmer may not apply. Officials agreed that this could be a concern and I will be interested to see how this issue can be ironed out to cause the least problems for the applicants and be of most benefit to individual farms.”
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