New farm grants to boost productivity

18 November 2021

Another step in the restructuring of farming support was announced bringing the welcome news that applications for two new grants can be made from 16th November. The total funding for this grant round is £27m.

The larger grants, issued under the Farming Transformation Fund, will be made primarily to help investments in water management, supporting projects to improve water use by way of on-farm reservoirs and irrigation improvements. Applicants will need to demonstrate, for example, how the irrigation will be used, what crops will be grown and what the impact will be on productivity. A grant application will then be “scored” to see how it fits in with scheme objectives and how it represents value for money. Successful applicants will be able to claim up to 40% of the total cost, with a minimum grant claim of £35,000 and a maximum of £500,000 (so eligible projects will be those costing between £87,500 and £1,250,000. The online application checker will be open until 12th January and those projects which receive initial approval will have until 30th June to make a full claim.

The smaller grants, which will be of wider relevance, will be made under the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF). These are available for businesses in arable and livestock farming, horticulture, and forestry. Like the previous Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme (CPSG), they offer funding towards the purchase of specified items. The intention is to improve the industry’s productivity, animal health and welfare and environmental benefits including biodiversity, and again, there is a scoring process to assess how each claim meets these objectives. FETF grants can range from £2,000 to £25,000 and there is a cap of £50,000 on total grants which can be made over this and subsequent rounds of the scheme (but previous grants awarded under the CPSG scheme are not brought into this calculation).

Typical items which can be purchased under the scheme include electronic horticulture equipment, forestry trailers and winches, rainwater harvesting tanks, robotic slurry pushers, animal handling systems, digital weather stations and portable CO2 or ammonia analysers. There are some 120 eligible items and, like the CPSG payments, the level of grant is fixed at a “table rate” irrespective of the actual cost. One new change is that it is now possible to order items using a refundable deposit, pending acceptance of the grant claim. The deposit cannot be more than 40% of the cost of the item and cannot have been paid before 16th November.

The scheme will end on 7th January 2022 and all claims by successful applicants need to be made by 30th September 2022.

Full details of the two grant schemes are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/farming-investment-fund
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/farming-equipment-and-technology-fund

Commenting on the announcement Agricultural & Rural Business Partner Joe Spencer said;

“These grants will be very welcome across the sector and will help farms modernise in anticipation of the forthcoming reductions in subsidy income. The application process seems straightforward, but our main concern is whether the available funding will be sufficient to meet the expected demand."

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