Farm Business Improvement Scheme - Capital Scheme

The Farm Business Improvement Scheme (FBIS) is a package of measures aimed at improving the competitiveness and sustainability of the farming sector. FBIS is an important part of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014 to 2020 and is being rolled out in a phased way.

Introduction to the Scheme

The Capital Scheme has two separate tiers – Tier 1 and Tier 2.

Tier 1 includes on-farm investment projects from £5,000 to a maximum of £30,000 project costs, and is aimed primarily at encouraging farmers to invest in equipment and machinery that will improve the sustainability of their businesses (i.e. environmental performance, health and safety, animal health and welfare).

The grant rate of funding for both tiers in the Scheme is 40% of eligible costs.

Tier 1

Please note that Tranche 3 of Tier 1 closed for applications on 4 December 2020.

The objective of Tier 1 is to improve the sustainability of farms in Northern Ireland.  It will provide support for farmers and growers to invest in equipment and machinery that will help realise improvements in efficiency, environmental practice, animal health and welfare, and health and safety, associated with modern farming practices.

Tier 1 is for projects costing from £5,000 - £30,000 (eligible costs) and is primarily aimed at the purchase of off the shelf equipment and machinery.

Tier 2

An Expression of Interest (EoI) for the second tranche of Tier 2 of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme - Capital (FBIS-C) opened on 19 July 2021 and closed on 13 August 2021.

Invitations to information and training events will issue shortly to farm businesses which submitted an EoI , ahead of the scheme opening for full applications (Stage 2) in October.

Further guidance will be made available on this page prior to the scheme opening.

The focus of Tier 2 is on larger-scale investment to encourage a step change in the agriculture and horticulture sectors, and to drive transformational investment in future proofed, fit-for-purpose, modern infrastructure and equipment, guided by a robust business planning process within assisted farms.

Tier 2 is for projects costing from £30,000 - unlimited (within the overall maximum grant limit of £250,000 available under the NI Rural Development Programme 2014-20) and is primarily for construction projects and the purchase of higher value equipment linked to the needs in the farmer’s business plan.

Anyone interested in applying to FBIS-Capital Tier 2 tranche 2 MUST have completed the Expression of Interest (stage 1 of the application process) in order to be eligible to subsequently make a full application (stage 2 of the application process).

Applicants to Tier 2 will be required to submit a separate robust, viable and sustainable business plan as part of their full application, which shows that they have carefully planned their investment and what difference the proposed project will make in transforming their farm into a more sustainable, efficient and safer business.

All projects which involve construction or renovation of buildings, or which include equipment which could increase livestock capacity will require planning permission or a Certificate of Lawful use/Development to be in place before a full application is submitted (Stage 2 of the application process).

In addition, support will not be provided for proposals (for either construction or equipment) which increase confinement of cattle (dairy or beef) i.e. which would lead to an increase in time housed and a decrease in the average number of days (including partial days) for cattle grazing outside.

Possession of a valid DAERA Category 1 Farm Business ID

A Category 1 Farm Business ID is required for all applicants to the FBIS Capital Scheme.  Further information and details on how to apply for a DAERA Farm Business ID can be found here.

Ineligible items/projects

Some items/areas will be ineligible for grant support through the Capital Scheme, such as: 

  • like for like replacement or maintenance;
  • consumables such as feed, fuel or spray;
  • investments relating to non-agricultural animals and
  • items that meet existing statutory requirements such as minimum slurry storage.

Further information on ineligible items

Additional information will be placed on the DAERA website as it becomes available.

‘Making it Safer’ risk assessment

All applicants to both tiers of the Scheme must complete the FarmSafeNet ‘Making it Safer’ risk assessment certificate where the applicant will be required to answer questions relating to their own farm on Slurry, Animals, Falls and Equipment (SAFE).

This is an online tool developed by the Farm Safety Partnership and it is available at the link below. A certificate will be issued on completion.

‘Making it Safer’ risk assessment

Indication of Support letter from Bank/lending institution

An Indication of Support letter will be required at application stage for the FBIS-C. All applicants must provide a template letter that has been completed by their bank or lending institution before they make an application for grant support. 

Please note that the Indication of Support Letter must have been completed at time of application to the scheme.

This letter, referred to as an Indication of Support Letter, is designed to encourage applicants to carefully consider the needs and circumstances of their farm business before proceeding with a project and will confirm that the applicant has access to funds to complete their project. 

Applicants do not actually have to borrow the funds from a bank or lending institution. However, should you decide to proceed with an application, the letter will provide reassurance to the applicant, the financial institution and DAERA that the applicant will be able to access the funds necessary to finance and complete the proposed investment, including VAT, until the applicant is reimbursed for the grant assistance towards eligible expenditure at the end of the project.

The bank letter template, DAERA FBIS-Capital Indication of Support, should be used by the applicant, if you bank with one of the main financial institutions. However, banks and lending institutions may choose to use an alternative letter format which will be accepted, provided equivalent information is contained within the letter.  

If the financial institution that the applicant banks with wishes to provide a letter that is not in the above format, then it must include the following information as a minimum: 

  1. Name, address of client and six digit DAERA Category 1 Farm Business ID number (to be used by DAERA to cross reference the application);
  2. Confirmation that the client has managed their account effectively and/or complied with the terms and conditions of the account;
  3. Future funding requirements of the client have been discussed in relation to purchase of items under the Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital;
  4. Confirmation that, at present, the client has access to sufficient funds, or could have access to sufficient funds, to purchase equipment (including VAT) under the Scheme – prior to a grant being paid by DAERA (should the client be successful in obtaining a Letter of Offer of funding).
  5. Signed by and dated by an authorised representative of the bank/lending institution.

If the applicant is provided with a letter from the financial institution with the information, as set out in points one to four above, this will suffice and it can be attached to the application for FBIS - C in the usual way.

The bank/lending institution letter does not have to be in the name of the applicant but must be in the name of a person named on the DAERA Category 1 Farm Business Identification Number. 

Applicants should contact their bank/lending institution at the earliest opportunity to ensure any Indication of Support Letter that their bank/lending institution is prepared to provide, is available to be included with the application prior to the closing date of the Scheme.


If you have a query or wish to contact us about the Farm Business Improvement Scheme – Capital Scheme, please follow the instructions at the link below:

FBIS Capital Scheme - contact details


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