£5m EU grants offer to improve farm productivity

Grants of between £5,000 and £150,000 are on offer to help groups of farmers carry out applied research that aims to boost productivity in the farming industry.

Defra has announced £5m of funding is now available under the latest phase of European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-Agri) grants scheme.

The aim of EIP-Agri is for groups of farmers or researchers in England to develop academic research into solutions for recognised industry problems in new and innovative ways.

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Funding will not be available to pay for initial or pure research, but money will instead be targeted at real-world trials of solutions already identified by researchers.

The grants will be available for projects of up to three years in either the livestock, arable, horticulture or forestry sectors.

Funds are only available to “operational groups”, but this can be as little as two farmers working together on a project.

Grants will also be available to agricultural businesses and researchers working in the field of farming, but priority will be given to applications with significant farmer involvement.

The application window is open for the next two years, but any submissions in by 31 March 2016 will be assessed in late spring 2016 to enable the work to start sooner.

Farm minister George Eustice said: “This fund will enable groups to come together to test and implement exciting new ideas to solve problems and increase farm and forest productivity. By looking to other sectors, such as medicine, for inspiration and knowledge transfer, it facilitates even greater innovation.”

Workshops are due to take place throughout September for operational groups looking to submit an application.

Full details of the EIP-Agri scheme are available in pdf format on Defra’s website.

The funding is part of the Countryside Productivity Scheme, which in turn is part of the Rural Development Plan for England. A separate £5m fund has been available for farmers who wanted to invest in farm equipment to boost their productivity, but applications for this closed on 30 June.