Jonathan Hird, Chartered Surveyor at H&H Land & Estates, investigates what the newly launched Farming Investment Fund means for the industry

AS the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) begins to be phased out, the significance of ensuring that your farming business is operating as efficiently and environmentally friendly as possible is becoming increasingly more important. Funding is out there to help support farmers in meeting targets, so it is essential that these opportunities are grasped.

This week the good news is that we see the launch of the Farming Investment Fund, with grant funding available for agricultural equipment and technology which will help to transform and future proof farming business.

This Fund is split into two key areas, the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, and The Farming Transformation Fund.

The Farming Investment Equipment and Technology Fund replaces the former Countryside Productivity Small Grant (CPSG) scheme. This fund provides 40 percent grant for a set list of agricultural equipment. It is support aimed specifically at improving the technical efficiency of the farm, to further support animal health and welfare, to provide resource efficiency, as well as aiding nutrient management. This grant could be used, for example, on new cattle handling equipment or slurry dribble bar equipment.

The Farming Transformation Fund is a grant funding for larger farm investments. This is in line with previous grant funding for improving farm productivity, water resource management, and adding value to agri-food. Funding will be made available for investment into robotic technology and precision equipment, for equipment such as milking robots. The aim is to help Farmers bring their farms into the 21st century and to create a more sustainable business. The grant funding is competitive, so applications must demonstrate how their business will benefit socially, economically and environmentally. A clear and detailed application will help to ensure successful grant funding.

These grants will help farms improve efficiencies and reduce costs, ultimately making the business more profitable.

Further grant funding, scheduled to open in 2022, is the Slurry Investment Scheme. Offering support to increase capacity on-farm by providing investment for new slurry stores. This will also help to maximise slurry produced on farm, which is becoming increasingly more important as the price of fertiliser increases. Importantly, it also helps towards farms meeting their Net Zero target, by reducing pollution and ammonia on farm.

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme has been confirmed to open in 2022 and will remain open for applications until 2023. This is again split into two areas: Capital Grants and Mid-Tier. The Capital Grant provides funding for water quality improvements such as concrete yard renewal and roofing over muck stores, air quality improvements such as low emission flooring and automatic slurry scrapers and funding for hedges and dry-stone wall improvements. Whilst the Mid-Tier provides capital grant funding for the same elements, it will offer greater funding than the stand-alone capital grant. To be able to access this enhanced funding however, management options have to be in place to improve the natural environment and the diversity of wildlife, water, and air quality. This will then provide environmental enhancements and economic benefits to farming businesses, allowing improvements to be carried out to help reduce carbon outputs.