Farmers have less than a month to apply for funding under a new grant scheme designed to help with purchases of smaller machinery and equipment.
The £60m Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme provides grants of £3,000 to £12,000, up to 40% of the total cost.
But how does it work in practice? Farmers Weekly answers our reader’s basic questions.
When is the deadline?
The closing date for the scheme is midday on 14 March 2018
Who can apply?
Farmers or agents acting on their behalf. Contractors cannot apply.
What type of equipment is covered?
Livestock equipment – handling systems, crushes, calving detectors, weighing equipment, calf feeders, EID devices, pasture plate meters and electric scraper systems.
Arable equipment – precision-farming equipment, including GPS units, yield mapping devices, variable rate controllers and direct or strip till drills.
Are there limits on what you can buy?
Yes. The scheme has a prescriptive list of equipment types set out in the handbook – only items that meet the criteria can be purchased.
Each eligible item type has a minimum specification and a standard cost. Superior specifications might not be covered.
What does the prescriptive list look like?
It has 60 entries describing the criteria that must be met and the standard cost that the grant can be put towards, for example:
Auto calf feeder with washing facility – programmable milk feeder for calves capable of individually feeding and monitoring calf intake.
Able to alert if calf is not drinking or drinking less than normal. Must automatically self-clean feeding tube and teat between each feeding. Cost for one feed station and 25-30 collars: £8,116.
What does the grant cover?
Grants cover up to 40% of the standard cost with a total spend of between £3,000 and £12,000.
Additional costs of items that exceed the standard specification must be funded by the farmer.
Can I buy more than one item?
Yes. Multiple items can be selected that meet the criteria in the lists and added to a basket. All items selected must then be bought and each one must have an invoice and proof of purchase.
How many times can I apply?
Only one successful application can be made.
What do I need to do before I start my application?
Before you apply you need to:
- Be registered on the RPA system
- Hold a Single Business Identifier (SBI) number
- Have a Customer Registration Number (CRN)
- Verify your identity on the government’s website
- Check rural payments records and farm details which must match those held by the RPA or the application will be rejected
How long does it take?
The online application should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete. Applications must be made in one go as the website cannot save part-completed entries.
What happens after I have applied?
The application will be acknowledged via email. This does not mean the application has been successful. Successful applicants will be notified after the funding round has closed.
Only after you receive this email can the equipment be purchased. Then the grant money can be claimed.
Purchase and grant claims must be completed within 150 days of gaining approval.
Do I have to keep the equipment once it is purchased?
Yes. Items purchased with grant funding must be kept in situ, operational and in good repair. If any grant funded assets are sold, become redundant or cease to be used for the purpose for which they were grant funded, the grant will be reclaimed pro-rata. This will be effective for five years from the date of your final grant payment.
How do I apply?
Applications can be made online at the Small Grant Scheme Portal
Contacts and information
Phone: RPA helpline on 03000 200 301.
Detailed information is available in the Small Grant Handbook (PDF)
Time is of the essence
Strutt & Parker farm consultant Helen Gosling says the package is “incredibly useful and likely to be heavily subscribed”.
“At a time when farmers are looking for ways to improve efficiencies and manage their land in more sustainable ways, then this funding could be invaluable. However, it is important to act quickly, as applications for the first round of funding must be in by midday on 14 March 2018.
“If money is left over following the first round, DEFRA has said it is possible there will be further funding rounds,” she said.
“However, you can only submit one application and we know the scheme has been extremely popular in the past and so demand is likely to be heavy.”