GRANTS GETTING MORE COMPLEX
Modern-day grants are seen as more complex and difficult
to access than their predecessors. Research,
professionalism and stamina are vital
THIS guide is a condensed version of Lloyds TSBs Your Guide To Farm And Rural Grants. First published in spring 2001, it has been fully updated and a section added for Scotland.
The guide outlines the government grants and support initiatives for agriculture. These schemes are seen as more complex and difficult to access by farmers than previous forms of support because funding now comes from many different sources, more government agencies are involved and most of the grants are not available as of right but are often project-based, collaborative and competitive. Understanding regional or local objectives will be increasingly important.
Farmers need to understand these changes because funding of support will be progressively switched away from agricultural production at farm level. Instead, it will go into more general support for the rural economy through encouraging such things as environmental projects, diversification and adding value to farm produce.
The new grants in this guide have come mainly from the Rural Development Regulation (the second pillar of the CAP) as part of the EUs Agenda 2000 reform, or from the Action Plan for Farming set up by the UK government following the Downing Street summit in March 2000.
In England, the new schemes and initiatives are centred around the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) launched in Autumn 2000 as a seven-year programme.
Although they have been up and running for over a year now, uptake has been lower than expected. This has been attributed to foot-and-mouth disease and applications are anticipated to be higher this year.
* Wales more complex
In Wales, it was not possible to launch a similar Rural Develop-ment Plan. The funding is more complex and many agencies are involved.
Some schemes have only just opened following the establishment of a further agency – Farming Connect, a one-stop shop to point farmers in the right direction for all these new supports and any future ones.
In Scotland, much of the funding available was needed for the new Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme and the ongoing agri-environmental schemes.
This left nothing for the new project-based schemes as included in the ERDP. The Scottish Executive has now funded some schemes from its own domestic resources for much of Scotland, and these were launched in June 2001.
These schemes are, therefore, state aids which had to be cleared by the EC first, although they are drawn from the options available under the ECs Rural Development Regulation.