Animal Health & Welfare theme – acceptance and claim deadlines
From mid-July, the RPA has started contacting successful applicants for the Animal Health and Welfare grant funding agreements.
For those have been successful, the RPA has an acceptance portal which you can use to accept the agreement or, for those who do not wish to continue, you can also withdraw from the agreement. This portal will remain open until Monday 11 September for agreements to be responded to.
Once accepted, the grant holder can purchase the items and claim the grant money by midnight on 5 December 2023. This is a different timeline to the Productivity and Slurry Pathway; the deadline for that strand is 7 November 2023.
Basis of funding – This grant offers funding to contribute to a specific list of equipment to increase productivity, boost environmental sustainability, better manage slurry and improve animal health and welfare.
Competitive grants – The FETF 23 grant is competitive, and a famer will not automatically get a grant after applying for one. The success of an application(s) will depend on the number and value of applications the RPA receive for each theme of the grant.
Two funding themes and timelines in one grant – Each of the following themes of this grant has a separate list of eligible items a farmer can seek grant funding for. There are also separate online application portals and different timelines for the following themes:
Grants for items under on the Productivity and Slurry list are available under the following categories:
- slurry management
- resource management
Grants for items on the Animal Health and Welfare list are available to farmers or contractors in the following sectors:
- beef cattle
- dairy cattle
- laying hens (including rearing and breeding farms)
- broilers (including rearing and breeding farms)
The online application window for Productivity and Slurry theme opened on 21 February 2023 and closed midday on 4 April 2023. The Animal Health and Welfare application portal opened on 23 March 2023 and closed at midday on 15 June 2023.
The RPA state the claim submission deadlines for FETF 2023 will be confirmed in the Grant Funding Agreement sent to those that are successful with an application. The claim deadline for the Productivity and Slurry theme is midnight on 7 November 2023. The claim deadline for the Animal Health and Welfare theme is 5 December 2023. These dates have been communicated when decision letters were issued to successful applicants.
It is important to note that successful applicants who want to continue with their application, should confirm with their supplier that the items are available and then accept their Grant Funding Agreement GFA online using the ‘FETF acceptance portal’ link on GOV.UK. For the Productivity and Slurry theme the deadline to do this is midnight on 3 July 2023.
Members should read the full guidance before applying for this productivity and slurry, and animal health and welfare grant. There are sections on the government's website covering: how to apply, how to claim, terms and conditions, and the lists of the eligible items available under this grant offer.
More information can be found on the government's website at: GOV.UK | Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) 2023
The FETF 2023 grants were for a minimum of £1,000 and a maximum of £25,000 per theme.
This means the maximum grant you can receive for Productivity and Slurry items is £25,000 and the maximum grant you can receive for Animal Health and Welfare items is £25,000.
If you're successful and received funding in Round 1 you can still apply for up to £25,000 per theme. The minimum and maximum grant levels apply to 2023 only. In future, there may be a cap added for the total grant that can be claimed over more than one year.
Farmers can apply to either theme or both, for any of the eligible items that best suit their business.
There were 120 items of equipment on the list under Round 1; there are now 203 items across the two lists for the FETF 23 offer.
The 203 items are split down into 91 items for the Productivity and Slurry theme and 112 for the Animal Health and Welfare theme. For Animal Health and Welfare items, the RPA and Defra strongly recommend that farmers talk to a vet before they apply for these items to help them improve their health and welfare of their livestock. Farmers can get advice by phone, email, or as part of a vet visit.
Productivity and Slurry items can be found in Annex 3 on the RPA's guidance, and Animal Health and Welfare items can be found in Annex 4.
Out of those lists there were:
- 19 new items to aid productivity
- 2 new items to help with better slurry management
- 66 new items to support animal health and welfare (part of the Animal Health & Welfare Pathway).
There are 6 items that have been removed as stated in the guidance and explanation given.
The grant amount listed against each item in Annex 3 and Annex 4 of the aforementioned RPA guidance is the actual grant amount the RPA will pay a farmer and is a contribution towards the total cost of the item. It is the farmers' responsibility to fund the remaining cost of an item.
Items must be paid for in full before claiming your grant payment. Items must be purchased through a supplier or manufacturer not linked to the farmer’s business and must not be home built.
Transparency – Each eligible item has a score (out of 100) assigned to it based on a Defra / RPA assessment of how well it meets the objectives of the scheme as set out above. These scores are set out in the Annexes (for Productivity and Slurry items they range from 40 to 80 and for Animal Health and Welfare items 42 to 98).
If either scheme theme is oversubscribed, the RPA will allocate funding to those items (or the average for a combination of items) applied for with the highest score first. This information was asked for after the over-subscription for Round 1 to help farmers understand why they were unsuccessful with an eligible application.
Poultry producers, including rearing and breeding farms, were able to apply for the following new items:
- Automatic curtain system for controlling ventilation and/or lighting levels in poultry housing
- Central computerised system capable of the integration of house management data in real-time as well as automated control of linked parameter management systems eg ventilation or heating
- Automatic bird weigh scales
- Feed bin weighing equipment
- Poultry perches (mushroom shaped)
- Low level perches for use in broiler houses
- Automatic enrichment feeder
- Freestanding metal and/or polypropylene platforms and ramps for poultry to provide an elevated rest area and enrichment
- Nipple drinker system
- Metal platforms and ramps used either within or immediately adjacent to the system to aid movement into and around housing
- Spin feeder
- Feed system for split feeding
- 3D weighing camera system
- A fixed ultrasonic flow meter capable of accurately measuring water consumption
Livestock and Dairy producers were able to apply for funding for a range of items under the Animal Health and Welfare list. To read the full list of items visit the following relevant sections on the government's website:
Please note there were some livestock productivity items in the Productivity and Slurry list of eligible items - this list also has categories for items under horticulture, arable, slurry, resource management and general items.
Which items are not eligible?
If the equipment a farmer wants is not listed, or does not meet the minimum specification, it is not eligible for this grant.
Only brand-new items can be funded through the FETF. Ex-demo, second hand and ‘try before you buy’ items are not eligible for this grant.
It is key to read the FETF 23 specifications carefully, as some may have changed since Round 1 as the whole list has been reviewed, despite the numbering remaining the same for items that were also offered under Round 1.
The RPA / Defra encouraged anyone who was unsuccessful in the first round of the FETF to apply again; there is no connection with Round 1 success or failure or withdrawal when it comes to applying for FETF 23.
Stage 1 – actions to take before applying
You should have checked the following before applying:
Read the information carefully – before applying, ensure you've read the guidance in full and understand the requirements of the scheme, what is eligible and also what information is required when applying and following the application instructions. Understand how items can be purchased and when that process can start to avoid items being ineligible for the grant.
There is a YouTube video to help with the application process.
Check your Rural Payment Online details including permissions – those who wish to apply need to be registered with the RPA’s Rural Payments service and have an SBI (Single Business Identifier). The RPA cannot process an application without this. Your application details must match exactly your records on the Rural Payments service to avoid delays or rejection. Find out more on how to register with the RPA. The RPA will contact you via email if your details do not match its records, and ask you to make any required changes and resubmit your application.
Check the availability of items of interest with suppliers – you need to take account of the claim window deadlines by which time you will need to have to paid for and installed all the items before you can claim a grant towards them. Check the items will be compatible with existing systems and have suitable IT connectivity.
Stage 2 – applying via the portal
The online portal to apply has now closed for both themes.
Stage 3 – after submitting your application
Your application would then be checked for eligibility and scored by the RPA. If your application is successful, the RPA will email you a GFA (Grant Funding Agreement) for each application submitted – either the Productivity and Slurry portal, or the Animal Health and Welfare portal, or both portals.
Successful applicants will need to accept the GFA offer via the online acceptance portal by the date given in the email. A link will be provided by the RPA for you to do this. You will then be able to purchase all the items listed in the GFA (and to at least the minimum specification) before the end of the respective claim window.
Please note that approval of a successful application is based on the details in your application and is subject to; the declaration statements you signed up to in your application, the fund specific conditions of grant (Annex 1) of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund Manual 2023 and the terms and conditions (Annex 2) of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund Manual 2023.
Purchasing your items
Once the GFA offer has been accepted, you have to purchase all the items in your agreement unless exceptional circumstances apply and you have the RPA's written consent in advance. If you remove an item, your application must still be within the minimum (£1,000) and maximum (£25,000) grant values. The revised total amended score must still be more than the minimum threshold for the round; the cut off score for the Productivity and Slurry theme was 47.3. If you fall below this score your application will no longer be eligible for funding.
We urge you to contact the RPA if you are finding it difficult to get an item(s) and are unable to source it elsewhere, or if you are unable to meet the claim deadline. You must tell the RPA as soon as possible in these circumstances. Email [email protected], with an explanation and supporting evidence. The RPA will consider amendment requests on a case-by-case basis. You must be able to demonstrate you have taken all reasonable steps to source the items within a realistic time frame.
Make sure the purchased items meet the relevant item specification(s) listed in the guidance and start the process of purchasing as soon as you area allowed to from the RPA communication. You must keep accurate records for everything you spend (receipts and invoices) and provide these as supporting evidence for your claim. For RPA audit reasons, you must not make cash payments for any grant funded items.
If you accept a GFA, please be aware that you'll need to follow any guidance from the RPA about acknowledgement and publicity of the grant. The RPA / Defra is also legally required to publish data about grants made under the Productivity and Slurry portal.
You can withdraw your application after the acceptance portal is closed at any time by emailing [email protected], explaining you want to withdraw and giving your FETF reference number. You can withdraw your claim at any time, unless you have been told about a future site visit or have already had a site visit, a site visit reveals a breach of the rules.
Stage 4 – submitting a single claim for payment
Once you've paid for and installed the item(s) and they are in use (having followed the rules), submit a single claim for payment by the deadlines set out for the respective themes. The guidance on how to do this is detailed in the How to claim your grant section of the government's guidance.
Here is a short reminder of what you should submit with your claim:
- A completed claim and declaration form – find these at the end of your GFA.
- Copies of the invoices (following the RPA’s instructions)
- Copies of your payment evidence (following the RPA’s instructions) – bank or building society or business credit card statement which shows the items have been paid in full.
- Photographic evidence (following RPA’s instructions), showing the equipment in situ (where applicable), for each item.
- A photograph of the manufacturer’s plate, or a scanned image from the installation or operating manual, showing the serial number of each item, if a check of the specification detailed in Annex 3 and Annex 4 confirms you need to provide one.
- Installation and operating manuals, if necessary, to show the item is eligible.
Evidence should be either photographed or scanned and emailed to [email protected] by the claim date included in your GFA. Send the email from the email address you have registered with the Rural Payments service. The RPA will send all correspondence about your FETF 2023 claim from [email protected].
There are YouTube videos available from the RPA to help with the claims process.
The RPA consider a claim to be eligible where:
- the items are listed in your GFA
- the items meet the minimum specification set out in Annex 3 and 4 of the manual
- the order is placed after the date of your GFA, unless it is a refundable deposit
- the items have been fully paid for by the business named in the GFA - this means payment for the items is shown on your business bank or building society account statement or on your business credit card statement
- the items have been fully paid; ‘part exchange’ is not eligible
- items have been delivered, installed and are in use by your business
- items are at the location stated in your application
- the items are new – ex-demo, second hand, and ‘try before you buy’ items are not eligible
- you have submitted a claim and supporting evidence in accordance with this guidance
You'll receive your payment into the designated bank or building society account registered with the RPA once it has checked the information submitted. The RPA aims to pay your claim as soon as possible either within 30 working days of receipt of your claim evidence, or within the agreed published timescales for the claim submission window. This may be longer than 30 days due to a high number of claims coming in near the claim deadline, which has happened in the past.
Submitting all the required information in the correct format will help minimise any delay specific to your claim to getting payment.
Stage 5 – after payment
Keep grant funded items at the location stated in your GFA offer operational and in good repair for five years from the date your claim is paid.
Record the items on the business asset register for a minimum of five years from the date of the claim is paid. Keep copies of relevant documentation, including invoices, receipts and bank or building society statements for seven years.
If there are any changes, you must tell the RPA in advance. For example where you are replacing or upgrading any of the grant funded items, or any changes in the ownership of the business which applied for grant.
Please read the guidance carefully as there is a risk that some or all of the grant funds could be asked to be repaid where there are changes.
Each theme application will be assessed separately and based on the criteria for either Productivity and Slurry or Animal Health and Welfare.
The scores for each item applied for will be added up to give the total score for all items in the application and then used to work out the average score for the number of items that have requested.
The RPA will allocate funding starting with the highest scoring applications with the highest average scores that best meet the scoring criteria, until the available funding is fully allocated. This will set a minimum threshold for the round. The results of the previous application rounds do not affect this round.
For the Productivity and Slurry theme, this competitive scheme was oversubscribed and the RPA as a result will not be able to support everyone. For those who are unsuccessful, they will receive an email that explains how the RPA allocate funding starting with the highest scoring applications and that unfortunately their application did not score as highly as others. They will be told their score and what the minimum scoring threshold was.
The threshold score for a Productivity and Slurry theme application to be successful was 47.3 (the range of scores for individual items for this theme was between 40 and 80).