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Farming Investment Fund Grants

The Farming Investment Fund (FIF) Grant funding is now well underway, and more information is coming forward from DEFRA.

The schemes are similar to what we came to expect from the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme and the Countryside Productivity Scheme (CPS).

The Farming Equipment and Technology fund, for small investments closed on 7th Jan and saw plenty of interest. The Water Resource Management grant for the construction of reservoirs, closed on 12th Jan with reasonable interest.

We know that two more schemes are coming forward in the next 6-8 weeks – act quickly! These will be for grants of £35,000 to £500,000. This is called the Farming Transformation Fund.

The two schemes are called Improving Farm Productivity and Adding Value to Agri-Food. The manual for Farm Productivity has been released early to allow extra preparation time.

The main themes are Robotic and automated equipment. To be eligible the equipment must - sensing the environment in which it operates, understanding its environment from what it has sensed, planning what it needs to do from what it has understood, controlling the operation/process it has decided needs to be done (including controlling of actuators). Example projects could be - Robotic harvesting, weeding, spraying, feeding, milking, transplanting, ventilation and autonomous systems, slurry acidification.

We then expect the Adding Value scheme to fund projects that contain equipment and technology for storing, sorting, or processing products. From previous schemes we expect this to cover optical and split graders for potatoes/other crops, vegetable processing and wrapping equipment, flower cutting and bunching, meat and milk processing and adding value to grain, to name a few. If you are storing, sorting or processing a food product you may be eligible.

They are all two-stage application processes, with initial online checkers ahead of the submission of a full application, scored against selection criteria.

The scheme will be competitive so to enable an application to be submitted promptly it is advisable to gather the information needed now.

Depending on what funding is being sought, the application will require three pricing quotes, planning permission, confirmation of funding, consents/licences and an outline of the benefits the project will bring to the business.

What can you do to get a step ahead?  

•         The key is to prepare early – understand what you want to invest in and why.

•         Engage help to establish the eligibility of your project as early as possible.

•         Act quickly as there may be competition for funding and the RPA can remove funds if a scheme is fully committed.

•         Make a list of the quantifiable benefits, such as the projected additional production resulting from an investment and providing figures on what that means for turnover.

•         If you need planning and consents for projects such as reservoirs or a construction element of a project, get this done now.

•         Gather quotes for equipment and as much supporting evidence as possible.

•         Understand what outputs you can offer in relation to the grant request as this will make for a stronger application – the more funding the RPA commits to a project the more benefits it wants to see.

•         Utilise the funding for as much of the project as possible - if elements rely on other elements to work then they may be eligible too.

The schemes may seem niche, but this doesn’t mean that your project won’t qualify – you may be surprised at what is eligible.

Throughout all previous grant schemes Brown&Co secured over £30m for 338 projects for clients.

For further information please contact chris.sheldon@brown-co.com 

Chris Sheldon