The UK government is set to offer new Farming Investment Fund (FIF) grants to agricultural contractors from 2021 on, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors (NAAC) has announced.
The funding is only available to contractors in England. Although the rate has not yet been confirmed, it’s believed contractors will be eligible to claim grants from some point in 2021. Up to now, these grants have only been available to farmers.
The FIF grants are expected to support innovation and productivity through investment in equipment, technology and infrastructure. The NAAC said it will be a competitive scheme split into funds for lower-value and higher-value investments, with grants available for a proportion of the total cost of investment. It will provide targeted support to businesses so that they can invest to deliver environmental and other public benefits.
NAAC chief executive Jill Hewitt said: “Contractors have been specifically excluded from farming grants in the past, and the NAAC has been lobbying for years for official recognition of this sector as a vital and integral part of UK agriculture. Over 91% of farmers use a contractor and are increasingly reliant on the external input of specialist machinery, skills and labour. It is no longer necessary, or financially viable, to run all machinery in-house and contractors can bring new ideas and technology, fast-tracking access for farmers and driving productivity forward.”
This news is part of a roadmap outlining changes that will come into force over seven years as England moves away from CAP. This announcement will be a hot topic among Irish contractors who, despite carrying out much of the machinery-related work on farms, are not eligible for grants on equipment.