The Farming Investment Fund (England only)

CLA Land Use Policy Adviser, Cameron Hughes explores the much anticipated Farming Investment Fund (FIF)

The 16 November saw Defra launch the much anticipated Farming Investment Fund (FIF). The FIF provides grants to improve productivity and bring environmental benefits in England and is made up of 2 separate funds:

  • Farming Equipment and Technology Fund
  • Farming Transformation Fund

This blog provides an overview of both funds, along with a CLA analysis.

Farming Equipment and Technology Fund

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) provides grants towards the cost of agricultural, forestry and horticultural equipment and technology, which improve the productivity of farms in a sustainable way.

This fund is based on the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme, with many of the same items eligible for funding. However, there are some changes, including 38 new items of equipment and contractors will now be eligible to submit applications.

As before, applications for the scheme are made online via the ‘FETF Application Portal’ and are administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). Defined grant contributions have been set for each item, and will be paid regardless of the actual cost of the item, whether it is higher or lower.

Key information:

  • To apply applicants must register their business with the Rural Payments Agency
  • Applicants can choose from a list of 120 items
  • Round 1 application dates:
  • Opens 16th November
  • Closes 7th January 2022
  • Equipment claim deadline- 30th September 2022
  • Minimum grant contribution- £2,000
  • Maximum grant contribution- £25,000

CLA analysis

The CLA welcomes the launch of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund, which builds on the popularity of the Countryside Productivity Small Grant Scheme.

The CLA lobbied for the inclusion of a range of additional equipment, with 19 of the 38 new items being ones we specifically asked for. The notable increase in the number of forestry-related items is particularly encouraging, with 10 new items being added to the list.

The application deadline of 7th January 2022 does not give potential applicants long to review the list against their business needs and submit their application. Therefore we would encourage members to act now. Successful applicants will need to have paid for their equipment by the claim deadline of 30th September 2022.

We would recommend initiating conversations with equipment suppliers sooner rather than later, to ensure that you can meet this deadline.

Farming Transformation Fund

The Farming Transformation Fund (FTF) provides grants towards large capital items to help businesses improve productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability.

This first round of the FIF is themed on water management, with grants for capital items that improve farm productivity, such as the construction of on-farm reservoirs or the adoption of irrigation equipment to improve the efficient use of water.

Future rounds of the FTF are expected to launch next year and will focus on improving farm productivity and adding value to agricultural produce. Applications for capital items under this scheme are two-stage, with an initial expression of interest followed by full applications.

The Water Management Grant is only open to growers of irrigated food crops, ornaments and forestry nurseries. The minimum grant which can be applied for is £35,000 while the maximum is £500,000. Eligible projects include constructing water storage reservoirs, pumps and pipework to fill a reservoir, underground water distribution systems and best-practice application equipment such as boom or trickle irrigators. Note that projects are not eligible if their primary purpose is to control flooding. You can check if your project will be eligible for a grant here.

Key information:

  • To apply applicants must register their business with the Rural Payments Agency
  • Grants cover up to 40% of the eligible costs of a project
  • Minimum total project cost of £87,500
  • Grants are paid in arrears once work has been finished and paid for
  • Round 1 application dates:
  • Opens 16th November
  • Online expression of interest- 12th January 2022
  • Full application deadline- 30th June 2022
  • Planning permissions in place- 31st December 2022
  • Abstraction license requirement- 31st December 2022
  • Minimum grant contribution- £35,000
  • Maximum grant contribution- £500,000

CLA analysis

The CLA welcomes the launch of the first round of the Farming Transformation Fund, and the goals to improve productivity, water sustainability and the environment. However, timelines are tight, particularly given the need to secure planning permissions and abstraction licences before the end of 2022.

Processes for both can be protracted and applicants could suffer delays due to matters outside their control. To give themselves every chance of meeting the deadlines, applicants should act now. Should you receive a grant, make sure you follow all of the conditions, including only starting any payments or legal contracts after the project start date listed in the Grant Funding Agreement.

Find more details on the Farming Investment fund here

Key contact:

Cameron Hughes
Cameron Hughes Land Use Policy Adviser