Equipment grant is a big opportunity, but farmers should move fast
After much anticipation, the second round of the popular countryside productivity small grant scheme has reopened.
Farmers in England can apply for funding towards agricultural equipment, sourcing the additional 60 per cent themselves.
However, with the closing date for online applications less than 56 days away (closing midday on September 3) farmers must act quickly.
The grant scheme is open to the livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural sectors.
The grant provides 40 per cent funding towards over 85 different pieces of agricultural equipment, including fixed and mobile livestock handling systems, calf milk feeders, cameras for monitoring livestock, electronic weigh scales, precision farming equipment, grain stirrers and fruit ripeness spectrometers.
The 40 per cent grant is for a minimum of £3,000 (that is, minimum £7,500 total spend) and up to a maximum of £12,000 (£30,000 total spend). says.
The 2018 round of funding was hugely popular, with farmers claiming a total of £15 million to help with purchases of agricultural equipment.
We are expecting a similar level of uptake from farmers in England this year.
However, the tight application window being over the summer months and harvest period, may prove challenging. Farmers shouldn’t be put off by this as the available funding could really help drive improvements in animal health and welfare, resource efficiency or nutrient management.
As all of these areas are likely to be fundamental post Brexit, taking steps now will pay dividends.
When applying for the grant, there are a couple of key areas to be aware of.
Each item has a minimum specification and has been allocated a standard cost which the grant will pay 40 per cent towards. Farmers can purchase items which exceed the specification but will only receive a grant on the standard cost.
Grant funding agreements are anticipated to be offered from late September, requiring farmers to have purchased all of the equipment applied for by the end of February 2020.
Items purchased with grant funding must also be kept in good repair and used for the same purpose as set out in the original application for five years.
Applicants who had round one funding can also submit a new application to receive funding in round two, providing the total grant value of both applications is not more than £12,000. If a business withdrew their round one application or claim, or their application or claim was rejected, they are also eligible to apply under round two.
Beth Hanson, rural professional at McCartneys