Hundreds of farmers in England are yet to submit a claim for the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme, raising concern that unless they act quickly, they may miss out.
This popular scheme helps farmers to buy new equipment that will boost productivity, save time and increase yields.
It offers grants to cover 40% of costs, with the value ranging from £3,000 to £12,000, but the money can only be recouped after the kit has been purchased, with invoices, bank statements and photographs as proof.
Farmers who fail to submit the necessary evidence on time could end up buying equipment and then not getting paid any grant.
Defra announced earlier this year that the claim deadline for the 3,600 farmers who successfully applied to round two of the scheme had been extended from 31 May to 31 July.
There was concern about the effect of Covid-19 on supply chains, so the idea was to give farmers extra time to get hold of the items on their approved application and collect all the paperwork required to complete the claim form.
But according to Richard Wordsworth, NFU senior BPS adviser, despite this revised deadline, many hundreds of farmers are yet to submit a claim to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
“It would seem at this time there are a number of claimants expected to claim that have yet to do so and this is clearly a concern for the NFU, as it is for the RPA,” he said.
Mr Wordsworth said with the current pressures on farming, some applicants may have understandably decided to defer any investment to preserve their cashflow. If that was the case, he suggested they should inform the RPA.
However, there were likely to be others who were still intending to claim and it was important that they are mindful of the timeframes they’re expected to work to.
By the 31 July deadline, applicants must have had the equipment delivered to the farm (and installed if necessary) and supply the RPA with evidence.
“The NFU is encouraging farmers to claim as soon as possible,” said Mr Wordsworth. “Ordering an item now may be getting too late, unless you can guarantee the item can be there in the next two to three weeks.”
“It doesn’t matter if you have something eligible sitting in the yard, you need the paperwork with it [to support the claim].”