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https://defrafarming.blog.gov.uk/2021/03/30/the-farming-investment-fund-an-overview/

The Farming Investment Fund: an overview

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Things we're doing, Ways to get involved

UPDATE:

The Farming Investment Fund is open.

People are able to apply for grants for both smaller investments  (The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund) and for larger investments (The Farming Transformation Fund).

Find out more and apply here 

In the Agricultural Transition Plan, we said we believe there is a way for the industry to increase productivity in an environmentally sustainable way without relying on Direct Payments.

As Direct Payments are phasing out, new initiatives are taking flight. The Farming Investment Fund is one of the ways through which profitability and environmental good can be achieved. 

In this post, I’ll give an overview of the fund, ahead of its launch in the autumn. 

Simply put, The Farming Investment Fund is divided in two. One part of the fund awards grants of lower value and the other part awards grants of higher value.

The lower value investment part of the fund is called the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund.

The higher value investment part of the fund is called the Farming Transformation Fund.

Farmers and agricultural or forestry contractors involved in the production or processing of agricultural, horticultural or forestry products, who are based in England, can apply for a grant.  

It’s worth saying that agents will be able to apply on behalf of their clients, so long as they have the necessary permission on the Rural Payments system.  

We’ll publish the full eligibility guidance on GOV.UK in the coming months and we’ll blog about how applications are assessed before the autumn launch.

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund 

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund will provide smaller grants to improve business performance.

Farmers can apply for a grant to buy items from a set list of equipment, technology and small infrastructure investments. It is based on the current Countryside Productivity Small Grant scheme.

We are working with farmers, foresters, growers, contractors, and representative organisations to refresh this list. We will publish a blog post with more details about the list closer to the launch.

You will be able to make an application online quickly and simply. The approval process will be straightforward, with a clear grant value assigned to each item. If an application is successful, the applicant will buy the item and then will be able to claim the reimbursement using their receipt.

The Farming Transformation Fund

Grants awarded from The Farming Transformation Fund will support larger or more complicated investments. It is based on the Countryside Productivity Large Grant scheme which was structured around a number of themes. In the past we supported water resource management, adding value to agri-food and improving farm productivity

We are assessing which themes to support based on the feedback from previous schemes and conversations we are having with farmers.

The kinds of things grants might be awarded for could include:

  • on-farm water storage infrastructure, including reservoirs 
  • precision agriculture equipment (for example, low emission and variable-rate nutrient or pesticide application)
  • robotic or automated technology
  • equipment and technology for storing, sorting, or processing products 

For these grants we are designing an online eligibility checker to improve the application process. This is currently being tested with users.

We will publish more information about the kind of projects we will fund as part of the guidance when it launches in autumn.

If you’d like to know more about the Farming Investment Fund, for example how we compiled the Farming Equipment and Technology list, or our approach to the application and assessment process, comment below.

To keep up to date with our work, subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already, and sign up to Defra’s e-alerts too. 

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62 comments

  1. Comment by Peter Joyce posted on

    Can you post a link to Annex 3 of the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme?

    Reply
  2. Comment by Tom Wilkinson posted on

    Are you able to say if grain storage and grain drying/handling equipment will be covered by: "equipment and technology for storing, sorting, or processing products".

    Reply
    • Replies to Tom Wilkinson>

      Comment by Gordon Jones posted on

      Hi Tom, thanks for visiting the blog and for your question. We are not yet able to confirm what will be eligible for funding through the Farming Transformation Fund, but specific details on eligible items will be set out in scheme guidance. We'll be sure to post updates here on the blog and on GOV.UK. Best wishes, Gordon.

      Reply
  3. Comment by Joy Soar posted on

    Hello,
    Yes please, I would like to know how the list for the farming equipment and technology fund was chosen. Given the huge variety of farms, their soils and farming systems it must be difficult to get a prescription that's works for all.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Replies to Joy Soar>

      Comment by Gordon Jones posted on

      Hi Joy. A couple of people have said a blog post on this would be useful, so we'll do it. It's worth saying that the fund is based on a prescribed list of items which unfortunately can’t support everything a farmer needs to run their business. We will continue to keep the list of items under review to ensure future rounds of the scheme continue to be relevant. In reviewing the list, we have sought to engage farmers and their representatives, requesting that can deliver against one or more of the following policy outcomes: improve agricultural productivity, contribute to improved Animal Health and Welfare, encourage more sustainable pesticide usage, improve air and water quality, reduce Green House Gas emissions in line with Net Zero targets, reduce unsustainable use of abstracted water and encourage sustainable management of woodlands. Hope that's useful, and do look out for a blog from us in the coming months. Best wishes, Gordon.

      Reply
  4. Comment by Ian May posted on

    Hello, yes please I would be interested in knowing more about how the list of equipment in both grant schemes are chosen and how we may be able to input into the process.

    Thank you

    Reply
  5. Comment by Mark Harrison posted on

    Hello, There were some anomalies in the last round of the Countryside program in terms of roduct specification and pricing of items that made it difficult to get future proofed technology of the right type. Are these being addressed? It would make the money work more effectively and stop acquisition of tech with redundant features that won't be used or in order to tick the box so to speak.

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark Harrison>

      Comment by Jess Everett posted on

      Hi Mark,

      The list of items was reviewed between rounds including industry consultation. We are currently reviewing the list to make sure that the items offered this autumn, and in any future rounds, remain relevant. In doing this, we are carrying out a range of consultation measures.

      Thanks,
      Jess

      Reply
  6. Comment by Seb Murray posted on

    You note an online eligibility tool is being tested with users, how can farmers and rural consultants be part of the testing process?

    Reply
  7. Comment by Ben Griffiths posted on

    Hello,
    Will on farm tourism projects be eligible under the farming transformation fund? Thanks Ben

    Reply
    • Replies to Ben Griffiths>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for your comment - I'm very sorry for the time it's taken to respond.

      Farm tourism projects will not be eligible under the Farming Transformation Fund.

      The Fund will be based on the Countryside Productivity Large Grants. As such, it will offer support to farmers, foresters and growers in making more substantial investments in equipment, technology or infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment.

      When it comes to tourism support, my colleagues at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) are leading this work. You might be aware that the government is currently working on a tourism recovery plan, which was a commitment of the roadmap to reopening. The plan will set out a framework for the recovery of the tourism sector, including the government's objectives, approach and policy interventions.

      In addition to this, the government has launched an independent review of destination management organisations in England, to look in detail at how regional tourism can be best supported.

      The review will consider how the current destination management organisation landscape could be structured more effectively and efficiently in order to support the English tourism sector - including in rural areas - to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Sarah

      Reply
  8. Comment by Ann Mercer posted on

    Hi,

    When will the appication window open and close for the first round of both the 'Equiptment & Technolodgy' and Transformation Grant ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Ann Mercer>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hello Ann,

      We aim to launch the Farming Investment Fund in autumn. Details of the exact dates for the application windows for both the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and the Farming Transformation Fund aren't yet confirmed, but as soon as they are, we'll post an update here.

      With best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
      • Replies to Sarah Stewart>

        Comment by Emily Ashford posted on

        Hi
        Is there any further news on when the FETF and transformation fund applications will open?

        Reply
        • Replies to Emily Ashford>

          Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

          Hi Emily,

          Thanks for visiting the blog. I'm sorry I can't give you a specific date just now but as soon as the team has an update, it'll be published here.

          Best wishes,
          Sarah

          Reply
  9. Comment by James Heath posted on

    Hi,
    I have been following the announcements of how grants and payments will be changing going forward and as a farmers who have only been farming for 10 years myself and my brother look forward to the way payments will be available in the future for investment into productivity and the environment which will hopefully help us to become a greener business. We are currently looking at a project in order to start to store potatoes on our farm, we currently grow potatoes but all of them are sold direct from farm at harvest. The use of a store will help us to control market price and movement at the end of the season when price and demand can be low, and harvesting conditions can be difficult and soil conditions challenging. The Farming investment fund, I hope would be of benefit to this project however the start date is outlined as November 2021, in the past grant funding has had to of had a proposal agreed before the start of the project. If this funding is to follow the same protocol as previous funding then this will make it ineligible for our business. As a Business we have been going through a period of expansion in the past 10 years and cashflow has been critical hence the reason that funding on a project like this would be massively advantageous to our business. When quoting the project we have tried to ensure that we have chosen the best suited equipment in order to reduce energy usage and provide the correct environment, again this would hopefully be what this funding is available for. I currently have contracts available for the produce we would store, the equipment availability however I have been waiting to see the further information on the funding. Because the crop will be ready in September and I will wish to have the store functioning by September, does this make the chance of applying for this funding is impossible. If I am not able to apply now but would be available to apply in November then does this mean that I need to halt the project for a further year as the store would not then be required till September 2022? With the new proposals for payments and funding will Defra be looking into more flexible way in order to support farmers also. When a funding payment is made is not a limiting factor for projects like this as we can work with Defra on this, however a decision on what is and isn't funded is critical and I feel farmers should be able to still make business decisions over the next 12 months and have the ability to have support from funding despite it not being within the period correctly stated.
    Many Thanks for your time James Heath

    Reply
    • Replies to James Heath>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi James,

      Thanks for visiting the blog and for your questions.

      We are not yet able to confirm what will be eligible for funding through the Farming Transformation Fund, but specific details on eligible items will be set out in scheme guidance, expected later this year. As such, there will be no application window to apply for funding for projects in time for completion in September.

      At the moment, we're not able to confirm eligibility of projects under the Farming Transformation Fund, such as crop storage. The Fund will be competitive, with applications judged against those submitted within a particular funding round so there can be no guarantee of success.

      You can read more about the future of farming in the Agricultural Transition Plan https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agricultural-transition-plan-2021-to-2024 and Farming is Changing booklet https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-farming-changes-to-farming-in-england

      Reply
  10. Comment by The Team posted on

    Further details on The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF)

    The FETF will be similar to the existing Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme.

    This list of items has evolved slightly through rounds two and three of the CP Small Grants scheme.

    Given the original list focused mainly on livestock, we have been reviewing the list with the aid of stakeholders for the first round of the FETF to ensure that the items offered are relevant to agriculture, horticulture and forestry across England as we go through the transition period.

    Contractors will be eligible to apply for FETF as well as farmers, foresters and horticulturalists and the list includes items to reflect this change.

    We will continue to develop the list through engaging stakeholders so future rounds of the scheme continue to be relevant to the needs of farmers.

    Items will be scored as to their suitability for grant aid against three main criteria.

    · Contribute to Environmental benefits

    · Improve Productivity

    · Improve Animal Health and Welfare

    The scoring will be carried out by a panel of people drawn from across the department.

    Reply
  11. Comment by Andrew Pocock posted on

    Hi I know robotics may well be in the larger business transformation fund but what about milking parlours, these still offer farmers a proven way of milking cows efficiency. There are many modern parlours with lots of tech to bring farms up to the 21 century. I hope this is being looked at closely. Thanks Andy

    Reply
    • Replies to Andrew Pocock>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Andy,

      Thanks for your question. Milking parlours were not in scope of the Countryside Productivity Scheme and are expected to remain out of scope of the new Farming Investment Fund. They are not therefore expected to be eligible for funding under the scheme.

      The list of items available under the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund is being reviewed and will be published prior to the launch of the scheme in the autumn.

      We are considering which dairy related items will be included, but rest assured we anticipate there will be items on the list that will help improve productivity in the dairy sector while enhancing the environment and animal health and welfare.

      We will continue to review the list with the community to ensure that it is relevant.

      Best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
      • Replies to Sarah Stewart>

        Comment by Mr Andrew Robert pocock posted on

        Many thanks Sarah I really do appreciate your response. Regards Andy pocock

        Reply
  12. Comment by Andrew Down posted on

    Hello,

    Is forestry going to receive support? such as harvesters and forwarders.

    Reply
    • Replies to Andrew Down>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your question. The list of items available under the The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) is being reviewed and will be published in time for the launch in Autumn. As part of this review, we are considering which forestry items might be included. We will continue to review the list, with stakeholder engagement, for each future round of the FETF.
      Best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
      • Replies to Sarah Stewart>

        Comment by Bob Coldicott posted on

        When is the autumn launch?

        Reply
  13. Comment by Gemma posted on

    Hello,

    We are looking to implement cereal trials under organic and regenerative principles. Are there grants available for this?

    Reply
  14. Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

    Hi Gemma,
    Thanks for your interest and your question. There are no plans at present to fund trials under the Farm Investment Fund. The new Farming Investment Fund will provide grants to farmers, foresters and growers (including contractors to these sectors) so that they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment.
    Best wishes,
    Sarah

    Reply
  15. Comment by Victor Willmington posted on

    Thinking about the smaller grants, has bee farming been considered?
    Given the environmental and road miles discussions, a sustainable bee farming sector could lift the 10-11% of consumed honey that is currently home produced. New robotic and IT applications are perfect for small set price assistance and larger automated honey process lines are ideal for a UK based added value supply chain, so improving on farm job creation and efficiency

    Reply
    • Replies to Victor Willmington>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Victor,

      Thanks for visiting the blog and for your question. Bee farming doesn’t come under the scope of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) at the moment. The list of items available under the FETF will be reviewed ahead of future rounds of the scheme and I've passed on your comment to the team.

      Best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
  16. Comment by Claire posted on

    Hello, Are there any confirmed dates for when this funding will be available? Many thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Claire>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Claire,

      The exact launch date hasn’t been confirmed yet. We expect to launch the scheme this autumn but we will publish a post here as soon as we have a date.

      Best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
  17. Comment by Jean McK posted on

    I would like to put in a plug for funding updated slurry storage and separators. Ammonia pollution is a big problem and modern slurry storage and handling on all farms with livestock would be a big step toward reducing that.

    Reply
    • Replies to Jean McK>

      Comment by Sarah Stewart posted on

      Hi Jean,

      Thanks for visiting the blog and for sharing your views on slurry.

      We also want to improve slurry storage and handling and this is absolutely a consideration in the development of the relevant schemes.

      If you're not already signed up to take part in our co-design work, I know the team would love for you to take part to share your views, just email ffcpcodesign@defra.gov.uk

      Best wishes,
      Sarah

      Reply
  18. Comment by Ben Willcox posted on

    With contractors now being included will the items be more specific in terms of size and specification?
    For example a 12m dribble bar that a contractor would buy would be double the price of a 7.5m slurry tanker mounted dribble bar that a farmer would buy.

    Reply
  19. Comment by Rachel Cookson posted on

    Milking parlour improvements or helping make them more efficient would be a brilliant option . Not all farmers want to go into Robotic milking or have the facilities / set up for this (I know it’s brilliant and works well did some) , it takes the personal touch away from people that do want to stay hands on in a parlour. I do hope this will be reconsidered as it’s always missed out. Thank you . Rachel Cookson

    Reply
  20. Comment by Liz sellers posted on

    How will this fund support farmer led innovation? I’m a farmer and We have ideas to improve both efficiency and sustainability and would love funding to work with other parties to bring this innovation from drawing design board to the field to research and develop it. Yet this is expensive but this could then be brought to mass market if successful and be instrumental in improving farm industry practice. I would love to see genuine innovation and development supported which is farmer led rather than just off the shelf product purchases which are also sustainable and efficient .Can I do that with this fund? I really hope so…Any other ideas welcome

    Reply
    • Replies to Liz sellers>

      Comment by Leah Segal posted on

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks very much for your question, and it’s great to hear that you are interested in farmer-led innovation.

      Although the Farming Investment Fund is focused on existing technology or infrastructure, Defra is launching another scheme entirely to support innovation, research and development in farming and growing. This innovation R&D programme will have three funds within it, and one of them will specifically focus on farmer-led innovation. As you said, this is about innovation to improve both productivity and sustainability, and to respond to on-farm challenges.

      The fund was announced last November in our Agricultural Transition Plan (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/954283/agricultural-transition-plan.pdf on page 57) and you can read a bit more about the farmer-led innovation fund in this article from Agri-TechE: https://www.agri-tech-e.co.uk/views-on-new-accelerating-adoption-fund-sought-by-defra/

      Keep your eye on the blog as we’ll be sharing more information about this funding in the next few months, and if you happen to be at the Great Yorkshire Show or Fruit Focus then we’d love to talk to you more about it there!

      Best wishes,
      Leah

      Reply
  21. Comment by Michael Orchard posted on

    Will this cover setting up an onsite butchery?

    Reply
  22. Comment by Paul Mercer posted on

    I am looking to upgrade my glasshouse growing area so that I can use machinery to move trays of block plants around instead of relying entirely on seasonal foreign labour which is getting increasingly hard to secure. Will there be grants available for horticultural projects?

    Reply
  23. Comment by Samantha Read posted on

    Would this scheme cover equipment such as a weed surfer? This is not classed as precision technology, however will help farmers avoid use of herbicides, therefore supporting regenerative and organic farming.

    Reply
  24. Comment by Matt posted on

    What would the top end of this be for those growers who are looking to upgrade to LED to be more efficient

    Reply
  25. Comment by Davina posted on

    A client is looking to invest in a JD750a drill which is a direct disc drill for no till drilling / cover cropping are you able to confirm whether this is likely to be an item that will be available on the farm transformation Scheme that may form part of The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund or Farming Transformation Scheme.

    Reply
  26. Comment by C McCormack posted on

    Hello. Will the grants cover a mobile sheep milking parlour?

    Reply
    • Replies to C McCormack>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hello,

      The list of items available under the FETF includes a Mobile Cattle Handling System (FETF56) and a Mobile Sheep Handling System (FETF 69).

      Best wishes,
      The Farming Investment Fund Team

      Reply
  27. Comment by V posted on

    Good afternoon,
    Would this grant support replacing a boiler on a horticultural site for significantly more efficient one/reducing CO2? also, the purchasing of a robotic harvesters?

    Reply
  28. Comment by Ross McGowan posted on

    Hi there,

    Obviously labour is becoming a huge issue because the government is restricting the number of seasonal labourers.

    I would like to improve our pumpkin grading line with the use of specialised equipment such as box tippers to reduce our labour requirement.

    Is this the type of thing which could be approved for grant funding, or is it too specific?

    Thanks

    Ross

    Reply
  29. Comment by Bridget posted on

    Hello!
    it seems autumn is nearly over and there haven't been any recent blogs - please could you update? If it is going to be significantly delayed it is worth letting us know as there is only so long projects can be stalled before it is detrimental to wait.
    Thank-you!

    Reply
  30. Comment by Angela Wood posted on

    Any news on the Farming Investment Fund?

    Reply
  31. Comment by Samuel posted on

    Would this grant apply to a mobile handling system?

    Reply
  32. Comment by Len Eadon posted on

    Well here we are 16th November yet no link or information on how to apply, still saying refer to the previous CPSGS. How on earth are farming business meant to make reasoned and thought out financial decisions with no information and tight deadlines. How and where can we apply? I assumed through the Rural payments gateways but not link there either. Sort it out!

    Reply
  33. Comment by James R posted on

    Will new entrants to farming be able to apply for this, or is this just aimed at those already trading for years and who own their own land etc?

    Reply
    • Replies to James R>

      Comment by The Team posted on

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your question.

      The fund is open to both established farmers and those that have recently entered the industry, you do not need to be in receipt of BPS, although you will need to register with the Rural Payments Agency.

      The RPA can advise on this fetfenquiries@rpa.gov.uk.

      We have also reduced the minimum grant to £2,000 for the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund. We did this to make the fund more accessible to lower income farmers.

      We will continue to keep this under review to help ensure the fund is as accessible as possible.

      Best wishes,
      The Farming Investment Fund Team

      Reply

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