Find out about applying for Farming Investment Fund schemes

06 July 2022

Farm business Agricultural Transition Plan
An aerial view of farmland, farm buildings, harvested fields and a river running through the fields.

The government launched its first grant schemes under the Farming Investment Fund in November 2021, aimed at helping the farming industry to make productivity improvements. Here our expert advisers take a look at what we know so far.

These competitive productivity grants are split into small grants (Farming Equipment and Technology Fund) and large grants (Farming Transformation Fund).

So far these schemes have been very popular and all have been oversubscribed, with farmers who have previously not engaged with these types of grants engaging for the first time. This has meant that lower scoring applications, or weaker projects, have not been taken forward by the RPA.

The NFU continues to work closely with Defra and the RPA on the development of these schemes.

Latest news

Information published on Slurry Infrastructure grant

Defra published the first details about its Slurry Infrastructure grant on 9 June 2022. Part of the Farming Transformation Fund under the Farming Investment Fund, the scheme will open for applications in autumn 2022.

The Slurry Infrastructure grant is intended to help livestock farmers who are already using a slurry system to upgrade their slurry storage to reach six months' storage capacity.

Defra has been looking holistically at its support for slurry infrastructure, seeking to ensure a lasting step change for beef, dairy and pig farmers.

This work has links to Farming Rules for Water. The application process will be open to all dairy, beef and pig farmers in England already on a slurry system.

Defra is looking at the types of storage and build standards, as well as what conditions, advice and guidance it puts with the grant. In particular, Defra is looking at its connection to nutrient management planning.

You can find out more by visiting our Farming Transformation Fund – Slurry Infrastructure grant page.


Adding Value grant application window open

Defra announced details of the Adding Value grant scheme under its Farming Transformation Fund on 24 May 2022.

Adding Value grants will be awarded to farmers and growers to support their work processing, diversifying and adding value to their agricultural and horticultural products.

The Adding Value grant scheme opened for applications on 9 June 2022. The closing date for applications is 21 July 2022.

It will award capital grants of between £25k and £300k.

It is a competitive fund. The RPA will award funding to the strongest applications.

You can find out more by visiting our Farming Transformation Fund – Adding Value grant page.

Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF)

Round 1: 

Launched
16 November 2021

Application window closed
7 January 2022

What did it cover?
Round 1 was open to farmers, contractors, and foresters in England to choose from a pre-determined expanded list of 120 standard cost eligible items.

It included livestock items and resource efficiency items.

The grant contribution ranged from £2,000 to £25,000, with £50,000 over the lifetime of scheme.

What is happening now?
The RPA scored the claims and decisions were notified to applicants from mid-February onwards.

Despite the NFU calling for an increase in budget, there were a number of farmers that were unfortunately unsuccessful with their application.

Following acceptance of their grant funding agreement, successful applicants need to submit their claims. Before claims can be submitted, eligible items must have been purchased and paid for in full. A paperwork trail must be in place.

Early claims and grants have already been paid out by the RPA. The NFU is continuing to monitor the situation, given supply chain pressures at this time.

Claim deadline
31 October 2022

Defra is looking to open Round 2 from autumn 2022 onwards.

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) is for small grants. It effectively replaced the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme (CPSG) that existed under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

You can find more information on our Farming Equipment and Technology Fund page.


Farming Transformation Fund (FTF) for water

Launched
16 November 2021

Initial Outline Application window closed
12 January 2022

Full applications deadline for successful applicants

  • Tranche 1: 30 June 2022 for those that did not request an extension with planning and abstraction licences in place by 31 December 2022.
  • Tranche 1: 30 September 2022 for those that did request an extension with planning and abstraction licences in place by 31 March 2023.
  • Tranche 2: 30 November 2022 with planning and abstraction licences in place by 31 May 2023.

What did it cover?
The FTF for water offered grants to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation / secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on-farm reservoirs and related equipment.

Grant contribution range from £35,000 to £500,000 with a 40% intervention rate.

What is happening now?
There was a two stage application process with an online eligibility and desirability scoring checker that assessed initial applications. This closed back in January.

The RPA has since made three decisions on submitted initial applications:

  1. Strong scoring projects have been invited to progress with a full application.
  2. Some lower scoring projects were initially put on hold but have now been invited to put in a full application, as set out above in the form of Tranche 2.
  3. The weakest projects have been turned down.

After the deadlines set out above, the RPA will assess the full applications and decide on which will be offered grant funding. The decisions are said to be made within 60 days of this deadline.

Critical is the need to have planning permission/abstraction licences in place.

The FTF effectively replaces the Countryside Productivity Large Grants Scheme (CPLG) for Water Resource Management that existed under the RDPE.

You can find out more by visiting our guide to the Farming Transformation Fund scheme for water page.


Farming Transformation Fund Improving Farm Productivity grant

Scheme information published
Mid December 2021

Initial Outline Application window
19 January and 16 March 2022

Full applications deadline for successful applicants
14 September 2022

What did it cover?
The Improving Farm Productivity grant is to improve farm productivity through robotic (for example automated weeding / voluntary milking systems / feeding systems) or automation (for example advanced ventilation systems) and also mild slurry acidification treatment support.

Grant contribution range from £35,000 to £500,000 with a 40% intervention rate.

What is happening now?
There was a two stage application process with an online eligibility and desirability scoring checker that assessed initial applications. This closed back in mid-March.

The RPA has been assessing the initial applications received. At this point we expect that:

  • the strongest scoring projects will be invited to progress with a full application
  • lower scoring projects may be put on hold in case there are funds available from those asked to progress, but drop out
  • the weakest projects will be turned down

After the 14 September the RPA will assess the full applications and decide on which will be offered grant funding. The decisions are said to be made within 60 days of this deadline.

Critically, planning permission / abstraction licences needs to be in place by 31 December 2022.

Find out more by visiting our Farming Transformation Fund Improving Farm Productivity page.


What else is in the pipeline?

Farming Equipment and Technology Fund - Round 2

Defra recently asked for feedback on eligible items that should be included for Round 2 and any changes for items included in Round 1. We expect Round 2 to open in late 2022.

Animal Health and Welfare Pathway Capital grants

Defra is working with the industry on a time-limited set of financial incentives including specific small and large grants. More details and their relationship with the Farming Investment Fund are expected in the coming months.

NFU comment

Speaking at the launch of these schemes in November 2021, NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “The launch of the first productivity schemes is good news for farmers and will play a vital role in helping them invest in their businesses, boost productivity and prepare for the future."

“With more items being made available and the maximum value increasing to £25,000 for the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, the government has clearly recognised the benefits of investing in efficient food production.

“It’s great to see funding being made available under the Farming Transformation Fund for enabling water storage on farm, which is becoming increasingly important as we experience more frequent events of drought and flooding due to global warming.

“It’s vital that farmers make their applications as quickly as possible and, if accepted, give themselves as much time as possible to make the necessary arrangements.”

Make your application as quickly as possible

“However, the application windows for both schemes are tight. The current disruption to supply chains, as well as the difficulty getting planning permission for building reservoirs, could lead to delays.

“It’s vital that farmers make their applications as quickly as possible and, if accepted, give themselves as much time as possible to make the necessary arrangements.”

NFU Mutual Agri-Tech report

If you're thinking about investing in new equipment or technology, NFU Mutual's Agri-Tech Report provides information and examples to help you make the right decision for your business. 

Visit the NFU Mutual website to find out more and download the report: Agri-Tech: the technological revolution

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