Pile of coins on notes© Rex

Farmers are being warned that they could miss out on rural grants because the application windows are so short.

Schemes launched under the new Rural Development Programme for England have tighter deadlines than many farmers were used to under the previous programme.

See also: Capital grants scheme opens for applications

The four schemes are designed to make England’s rural businesses more competitive and environmentally friendly. They are countryside stewardship, the countryside productivity scheme, the growth programme and Leader.

“The window to make applications is shorter than before,” said Simon Blandford, head of farm management at Smiths Gore, Peterborough.

“Businesses should make sure they know when grants are open and that they have done as much preparation as possible in advance.”

This would give applicants the best chance of obtaining funding – and the full amount that they need – as many of the schemes are competitive.

“We see far too many businesses miss grants or make poor quality applications – and so have to delay projects or needlessly pay for them themselves.”

“We see far too many businesses miss grants or make poor quality applications – and so have to delay projects or needlessly pay for them themselves.”
Simon Blandford, Smiths Gore

“These grants are becoming harder to get, as funding has reduced, and must be made on line, so applicants need to be registered.

“They are also much more targeted to specific locations, which can cause confusion on what’s available.”

New funding was available for developing skills and protecting wildlife over a whole landscape by farmers working together. But this funding was limited.

Mr Blandford said: “We recommend that businesses are pro-active and ask about what is available as waiting for official forms and guidance will be too late.”