With the impending changes in subsidy payments generally, we are seeing a mass of new grant scheme offers. While focus in England is on the Environmental Land Management (‘ELMS’) offerings which will not commence until 2024, there are all sorts of other offers coming through in quick succession and with narrow windows for application.
Some of these are quick and prescriptive, such as the Farming and Equipment Technology Fund. These usually have a narrow window of opportunity for application and offer grant aid for very specific items, for example for slurry handling equipment. Farmers need to be focused and quick to take advantage of these, but also sensible about what they actually need. There is a danger of acquiring unnecessary goods simply because they come at a 40% discount.
Other grants are much wider in scope and require creative imagination. An example of this is in the Farming Innovation Fund and the Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) offer which is available in National Parks and the like. Under the FiPL scheme, we have seen grant aid made available for issues as wide as cattle handling pens, through building restoration, to natural capital assessments. As long as the objectives can be clearly clarified and subsequently monitored, grant aid should be available.
Well-advised operators who have clear business plan are making excellent use of these offers which dovetail neatly into a clear direction of travel. Others, with little or no clear plan could be missing out on significant financial help. A third sector are being led by the grant offer into applications which ultimately cause more expense, rather than less, particularly where there is a five year lock-in with a need to prove that each investment is meeting its originally–stated objectives.
The overriding message is that farmers need to take stock of their own businesses and be clear on their general direction of travel. Those that are well-organised and advised will thrive, but those were not may well not survive. There are mistakes to be made in the current wave of small grant offerings, but the same advice applies, but on a bigger scale, for the future, more expansive grant schemes.
- Natural Capital: Galbraith’s expert advisers guide our clients in realising value in all land uses – by assessing and measuring natural assets, furthering opportunities in biodiversity net gain, and ensuring stakeholders are rewarded fully for their investment in and contribution to delivering ecosystem services and net-zero outcomes.