DEFRA and the RPA have recently announced that £27 million has been made available for farmers to spend on technology and equipment to improve efficiency and provide environmental benefits.
The Farming Investment Fund (FIF) is based on the Countryside Productivity Grant scheme and will support farmers by offering grants to invest in equipment to boost productivity in a sustainable way. Farmers, horticulturalists, contractors, and forestry owners in England are eligible to apply.
The FIF will be split into two sections, one for smaller grants (£2,000 to £25,000) and the other to support larger investments (£35,000 to £500,000). The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund offers smaller grants for equipment to increase business performance and productivity. The grant is a contribution towards the purchase of new equipment from a set list which includes items such as a cattle crush, slurry application equipment, precision drills and GPS equipment.
Round one of the application window opened on the 16th November and closes on the 7th January 2022. Once the deadline has passed, the items in the application will be scored against other applications so funding is not guaranteed to every applicant. The minimum grant value is £2,000 and the maximum is £25,000 but if there were two rounds applicants could apply for up to £25,000 per round. The grant contribution is a fixed amount regardless of the actual cost of the item. As the grant is paid in arrears, the farmer will need funds to pay for the item in full and the remaining amount can’t be funded by other grants, hire purchase or leasing. The applicant must have bought the equipment in full and installed it by midnight on 30th September 2022.
The Farming Transformation Fund provides larger grants towards capital items and is split into three sections: water management, improving farm productivity and adding value. The water management grant application window is now open and, similar to the FIF, has a quick turnaround with a deadline of 12th January 2022. Further grants for farm productivity and added value are to follow.
With all of these schemes the devil is in the detail. On the surface they appear a fantastic opportunity, however, the RPA are quite specific about equipment specifications and application process. Whilst these grants offer increased maximum amounts to previous similar schemes, the tight deadline is of slight concern as difficulty in supply chains could potentially lead to delays. It is therefore crucial farmers wishing to apply make their application as soon as possible.
Harriet Jones MRICS, FAAV is a Rural Chartered Surveyor with Barbers Rural and can be contacted on email@example.com or 01630 692500.