Monday, December 10, 2018

£30m commitment to help farmers boost productivity

December 3, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Applications are set to open for £30m in funding from the government’s £30m Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme (CPSGS) – which helps farmers buy equipment to boost productivity and increase yields.

Launched in February, the first round of funding for small grants is on course to grant more than £15m to farmers who applied to buy new kit. The next application window will open in early 2019, said Defra secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Gove made the announcement ahead of an autumn meeting of the government’s agri-tech investment initiative. Funding would be available for equipment specific to cattle, sheep and pig farmers, as well as for precision farming equipment for arable farmers, he said.

“The UK is a world-leader for talent in agriculture and technology, so there are real opportunities for our burgeoning agri-tech sector. Harnessing technology enables our hard working farmers to become even more productive and environmentally efficient.”

Mr Gove said the rewards of investing in agri-tech were already being seen. “We know that by embracing technology – such as fruit ripeness spectrometers or calving detectors – farm businesses can become more efficient, productive and resilient.”

Following industry feedback, new items have also been added to the list of equipment eligible for funding in the second round, including fruit ripeness spectrometers and nitrogen-measuring devices for calculating fertiliser application for crops.

Harriet Matthews, a chartered surveyor with Berrys at Shrewsbury: said. “Particularly popular items have been fixed and mobile livestock handling systems, EID linked with weighing equipment, GPS, yield mapping and slurry monitoring and application equipment.”

She added: “Nitrogen-measuring devices for fertiliser application are a new addition to the list for the second round, which we also expect to be popular.”

NFU chief economics adviser Andrew Francis welcomed the additional funding. But he warned that it was crucial for Defra to work more closely with suppliers to ensure that equipment offered under the scheme was actually available.

“The NFU will continue to work closely with Defra on the design of future schemes post-Brexit, to ensure farmers have all the tools available to continue as productive, profitable and progressive farming businesses.”

Information about the scheme and the items eligible for the first round of funding are available on the Defra website. Further details will be published in early 2019 when the next round of funding opens for applications.

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