Farming Investment Fund
In March this year, DEFRA wrote a blog post to announce that the Farming Investment fund would be released in Autumn. The fund is designed to allow for profitability and good environmental practices to be achieved as basic payments are phased out.
In simple terms, the Farming Investment Fund is a two-part scheme:
- Part one funds lower value grants and is called the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund
- Part two funds higher value investment and is called the Farming Transformation Fund.
Farming Equipment and Technology Fund
In this smaller-scale fund, farmers can apply for a grant to buy items from a set list of equipment, technology and infrastructure. Unlike the Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme, this new fund will be eligible for farmers, foresters, growers and contractors
The applications for this fund will be able to be made online, quickly and simply, and the process will be straightforward. Once the application windows shut there will be a short period to appraise and score applications before any grant funding agreement is issued.
Successful applicants will then be given a set period within which they must accept their agreement via an online portal, purchase their grant item and then claim back their grant funding.
Farming Transformation Fund
This part of the Farming Investment Fund will support the larger or more complicated investments. The kind of thing that this grant could be awarded for is:
- On farm water storage
- Precision agricultural equipment
- Robotic or automated technology
- Equipment for storing, sorting or processing products
We expect this fund to have a two-stage application process. The first stage is likely to be an expression of interest and will give Defra the opportunity to assess an applicant’s eligibility before they submit a full application.
The second stage will involve the applications being scored against criteria before the decision is made.
For the process to be simpler for farmers, Defra has designed an online eligibility tool, which is currently being trialed.
If applicants are successful for this type of grant funding, they are likely to be paid the balance in several installments as the amounts involved will be a lot larger than the other type of the Farming Investment Fund.
How is this different to past grant funding opportunities?
There are two key differences from the past grant funding schemes:
- Usually investment supplied by Defra is focused mainly on farmers, however within the Farming Investment Fund, the grant funding will accept applications from farming contractors and growers as well.
- Another key differences to the Countryside Productivity scheme is that Defra is ensuring that this investment will focus on the entire industry, as in the past many of the grants have focused mainly on livestock farming.
By creating these changes, it will mean that more areas of the agricultural industry will benefit from the Farming Investment Fund, and the applications will be more varied.
What happens next?
Defra indicated that the Farming Investment Fund would be announced in November. Sign up to Defra’s Future Farming Blog to be notified of the launch.
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