£9m fund available to advise farmers during BPS phase-out

The government has announced a £9m funding pot for delivering free advice and support to up to 9,000 farmers while they adapt to basic payments being phased out.

Defra is inviting organisations, charities and consultancy businesses to tender for the funding as part of an interim Future Farming Resilience Fund.

Farmers and land managers will be able to access free support from organisations that are known and trusted in the agricultural community.

See also: Farmers confidence rocked by phased removal of BPS

The support will focus on helping farmers learn more about the effects of reductions to direct payments and how their business models might need to adapt.

The content will be delivered through a combination of workshops or through direct, one-to-one sessions, and is likely to include advice on business planning, performance recording and succession planning.

Defra has asked for tenders for the funding on offer to be made by 7 May, with a view to announcing the successful applicants in July.

Applications can be made on Defra’s website

Support should be available from late July/August, which is later than the initial scheduled start day of May 2021.

The scheme has been piloted over the past 12 months, with nine organisations delivering support to up to 1,700 farmers.

Signposting support

In its Path to Sustainable Farming document, published in November 2020, Defra said the scheme will focus on assisting farmers to make the right decisions through effective discussion and planning.

It will also signpost farmers to the wider assistance available to them, including support that focuses on wellbeing.

“Farmers who are currently in receipt of direct payments will be the target group for this scheme…but we will focus it towards those whose incomes are likely to be most adversely affected by the removal of direct payments,” it said.

“There will be different levels of support and we are currently looking at how many farmers we would like to benefit.”

Support offered through the Future Farming Resilience Fund will be scaled up from April 2022, with the scheme due to run until 2024.

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