The Environment Secretary Steve Barclay has announced capital grants are being made available for farmers wishing to install solar equipment on rooftops and irrigation reservoirs, as well as those looking to invest in robotic and automatic equipment.
Speaking at the CLA’s annual conference last week, Mr Barclay highlighted his vision for a “innovative and productive” agriculture sector, revealing a £45 million fund to support farmers to foster innovation, boost productivity and improve animal welfare, set to open “in the coming weeks”.
The majority of this fund (£30 million) will be accessible via the second round of the Improving Farming Productivity Grant, part of the Farming Transformation Fund (FTF), providing grants of between £15,000 and £100,000 towards solar equipment which can be fitted on rooftops and float on irrigation reservoirs, helping increase energy resilience and take-up of renewable energy generation on farms. Capital grants of £25,000 – £500,000 will also be available for robotic and automatic equipment, with further funding potentially available depending on levels of interest.
The Environment Secretary also launched the third round of the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), offering individual grants of up to £100,000 from a total £5 million. This round has been designed specifically to support farmers to prepare nature projects that will help attract investment from the private sector, with the Government targeting at least £500 million from this source by 2027, rising to at least £1 billion each year by 2030.
A further £8 million will be available in the third round of the Large R&D Partnership, a competition specifically designed to boost industrial research and experimental development projects, and a further £850,000 through the Research Starter Round 4 competition to identify and accelerate new agricultural solutions, funding growers or foresters who have bold, ambitious, early-stage ideas.
While making the announcement, Mr Barclay said:
“My pledge to you is that this government will always back British farmers who produce some of the highest quality food in the world, contribute billions to our economy, and to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude for taking care of our countryside.”
NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said:
“Innovation and new technology have always been central to the progress of British farming, and Defra’s announcement will further support our farmers as they continue to face ever-increasing financial pressures.
“Investing in farming businesses is key; purchasing equipment and technology to increase productivity and improve animal health and welfare on farm and meeting environmental objectives such as the installation of solar panels, as part of our ambition to reach net zero by 2040.”
Further details on the grants available, including eligibility and application process are set to be published later this month.