Delays threaten Countryside Productivity Scheme funding

Farmers who successfully applied for funding under the Countryside Productivity Scheme are struggling to source the equipment they want to buy within the required time limits because of long lead-in times.

The Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme offered grants of up to 40% to allow livestock and arable farmers to purchase kit which would make their businesses more efficient and productive, with the cash on offer ranging from £3,000 to £12,000.

Farmers are receiving letters from the RPA informing them whether their applications for the first round of the scheme have been successful.

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Applicants have an initial 14-day cooling off period from receipt of the grant offer in which to decline it if they want to – however, if they accept it, they must purchase the equipment and submit a claim for payment within 150 days.

However, the NFU has warned supply and delivery issues could scupper farmers’ ability to get the equipment within the necessary time.

“We are now receiving numerous instances, particularly with livestock-handling equipment such as cattle crushes that the manufacturers lead time to delivery is more than 150 days,” said a statement from the union.

“This will mean that successful grant applicants will be outside the window in which to receive this funding.”

The NFU said it was in frequent contact with Defra officials about how to resolve this problem, as it was determined that farmers should not lose out on the opportunity of the grant funds.

Defra says it is aware some grant recipients are experiencing difficulties in getting guaranteed deliveries within the 150-days and it is working with affected parties to find solutions to their individual cases.

Further information on successful applications is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Farmers who want to take up their grant offer are being advised to check the availability of equipment with their suppliers immediately.

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