Farmers urged to apply for grants from SOAR

GRANTS of up to £50,000 for farm diversification for local farmers across Craigavon, Armagh and Newry & Mourne Council areas are up for grabs from Monday, March 12 until May 11 this year under the NI Rural development Programme.

The agency responsible for the administration of the grants, SOAR, through the Joint Committee Council and the Local Action Group, are keen to hear from farmers who wish to set up a new business outside of mainstream agriculture, emphasising that the process is easy and straightforward. Applicants will be supported by a friendly, helpful and experienced team of people who are available to talk them through their business ideas.

Once approved, the funds can be used for either equipment, marketing or buildings. Past applicants have been awarded grants for projects as diverse as light engineering, self-catering accommodation, leisure activities and repair services. Stand alone renewable energy projects would be especially welcome as funding is being opened for them for the first time.

Speaking about the grants, SOAR’s Local Action Group Chairman, Miceal McCoy said “SOAR is delighted to be able to reopen our Measure for applications, building on our success to date of committing almost £7million. SOAR is keen to work with farmers and farm family members to help them with the much needed investment that they all need in today’s economic climate, and particularly the development of renewable energy projects.”

SOAR would encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a grant to apply. With over £2million of funding available for farm diversification projects, there is an excellent opportunity to secure funding for a range of business ideas.

Councillor George Savage, Chair of the JCC comments, “Many farmers have assets which may be developed into renewable projects and buildings or other facilities which have potential to be developed and we are now calling on them to apply for grants which will allow them to grow their business and in turn supplement their farm income.”

If you are interested in receiving an application pack, please contact any of the three SOAR offices in your local area on:

Craigavon Borough Council – 028 3831 2573

Armagh Borough Council - 028 3752 9600

Newry & Mourne Council – 028 3086 8900 or 02841774381

Similarly information can be accessed through our online resource, www.soarni.org