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Defra's national grant fund now open for applications from farmers and rural land-based businesses6th February 2014

DEFRA's national grant fund now open for applications from farmers and rural land-based businessesFarmers and rural land-based businesses are being invited to apply for grants through the third round of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS), which has just been launched.

The FFIS is a national grant fund that aims to help farmers, foresters and horticultural businesses across England increase profits and reduce their impact on the environment. During the previous two rounds this scheme was highly successful and many rural businesses took advantage of the opportunity to invest. Defra expects to award around £10 million of grants under FFIS in the third round.

Property advisors Savills is urging its clients to act quickly as the window for applications is very tight and is only open from 4 February to 4 April 2014. The scheme is available to all farmers and rural land based businesses irrespective of whether they have previously claimed. However, in the event that the round is oversubscribed, Defra have said that priority will be given to applicants who have not previously been awarded a grant. The maximum grant has also increased from £25,000 to £35,000 per applicant but the payment rate of 40 per cent in the lowlands and 50 per cent in Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDAs) remains.

Any item claimed must be identified within the FFIS handbook and fall within one of the five priority themes:

  • Reduce energy usage
  • Improve the management of manures/farm nutrients
  • Improve water resource management
  • Improve animal health and welfare
  • Improve the use of forestry resources 

Craig Hodgson from Savills Exeter office said: “Although many of the items are of value in themselves they should be considered in context with other funding opportunities such as the Catchment Sensitive Farming Scheme and the Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Scheme to bring additional benefit. Items such as slurry separators or covering slurry lagoons may also assist with NVZ requirements, particularly if you are getting tight on storage due to rain.”

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