Farmers in Scotland can apply for a slice of a £10m capital grant scheme from Monday (7 September) to help pay up to £20,000 towards the cost of new equipment.
The Sustainable Agricultural Capital Grants Scheme is a pilot programme designed to help farmers and crofters purchase equipment that protects the environment, reduces greenhouse gas emissions or supports sustainable farming.
Cattle and sheep handling equipment, retrofit autosteer kits and slurry lagoon covers are all eligible, with a full list available on the Scottish rural payments website, alongside more information on the application process.
Payments will be up to 50% of a predetermined cost for the item, meaning a streamlined application process that will not require the submission of quotes, the Scottish government said.
Applicants in the Highlands will receive a higher rate of 60% to cover the additional costs of transporting machinery to the area.
The scheme is part of a plan to cut agricultural emissions as the government looks to meet the challenging climate change targets it has set itself.
NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “This sort of assistance will be key in supporting Scottish agriculture in its positive response to the climate emergency and drive forward a green recovery from Covid-19.
“In our view, this initial funding commitment must be substantially built upon going forward to deliver climate change targets and support a more significant number of farmers and crofters from all sectors across Scottish agriculture to tackle climate change, increase biodiversity and improve water and air quality.”
He said NFU Scotland would support a much larger scheme to follow this pilot, with more options that will allow every farm and croft to access measures appropriate to their business.
Subsidy payment goes out early
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of Scottish farmers have received their direct subsidy payments early to support them through Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish government said it had paid the National Basic Payment Support Scheme to 11,885 farmers and crofters this week, with further payments to be made to more farmers before the end of the month.
It has been delivering payments early as a loan scheme since 2016, but this is the earliest they have been issued.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Paying these loans early is the single biggest action I can take to help those who have done so much to keep us fed during lockdown.
“I am pleased that the first payments have gone out a month earlier than 2019 and that we are the first administration in the UK to get support out to farmers and crofters this year.”
He urged business owners who have received the offer of a loan but have not yet returned their acceptance letter to do so as soon as possible in order to get their payment.