NFU Conference: PM’s announcements explained

Environment and climate
Rishi Sunak speaking at NFU Conference

At NFU Conference Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a series of funding announcements ranging from productivity and slurry, to animal health and welfare and R&D grants.

The PM’s announcement is expected to total £427m, including funding for technology and productivity schemes.

This funding forms part of the £2.4 billion budget that has been promised by the current government.

Of course, we do not know when this government’s term will come to an end, other than it will need to end by the maximum term of the current parliament.

What’s on offer for 2024?

There are two broad forms of grants through the Farming Investment Fund, which have a focus of improving productivity, resilience and also delivering improved environment and animal health and welfare.

  • Large grants – with grant contributions ranging from £15,000 / £25,000 and up to £500,000 depending on the theme.
  • Small grants – with grant contributions ranging from £1,000 to £50,000 depending on the theme via the FETF (Farming Equipment and Technology Fund).

In terms of the funding opportunities which should appear this year, we've provided a breakdown of what was announced at NFU Conference. There are links set out below for either current 2024 grant opportunities or referring back to earlier rounds, to give you a flavour of what could become available later this year.

Watch out for developments on NFUonline as each round becomes available. The NFU has and will continue to work with Defra on these opportunities:

£116m – large and small grants Slurry Infrastructure Grant

The Slurry Infrastructure Grant is used to replace, build additional, expand or cover existing slurry stores to reach the grant storage requirements.

This covers an increased grant offer for 2024 as well as £10.5 million budget made available via the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund 2024 offer.

£91m – large and small grants Animal Health and Welfare

This funding is to support farmers with the costs of items designed to improve the health and welfare of livestock.

This covers the current budget of £10 million for Calf Housing of AH&W (Animal Health and Welfare), and forthcoming other large grants for laying hens for AH&W and adult cattle for AH&W due to launch in 2024.

This budget also includes the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund 2024 AH&W theme offer.

£50m – Improving Farming Productivity Fund

This has increased from the original budget of £30 million. 

The funding is for robotics and automation, and rooftop solar to build on-farm energy security.

The increase from £30 million (£15 million for automation and robotics and £15 million for rooftop solar) to £50 million is expected to be split across £25 million for automation and robotics and £25 million for rooftop solar.

The deadline for initial applications is 21 March.

The deadline for full applications after the RPA has assessed the current initial applications is expected to mid-2025. 

£15m – large grants – Adding Value Grant

The Adding Value Grant is for farmers who want to expand their farm operations into processing, packing, and retailing.

Currently Defra is considering the level of demand for round 1, but it is hopeful there will be a further round to follow.

£15m – large grants – Water Management Grants

The Water Management Grants are for projects such as on-farm reservoirs and works to improve irrigation.

This funding is for a round 3, with an increase from the £10 million for rounds 1 and 2. 

£70m – small grants – Farming Equipment & Technology Fund

The FETF (Farming Equipment and Technology Fund) supports farmers with the costs of eligible items to build the resilience of the sector and boost our food security.

This amount is for the 2024 productivity theme and compliments the slurry and animal health and welfare grant theme.

On 20 February the RPA released the details of the FETF 2024 offer.

Find out more on the key changes.

SFI management payment doubled

The Prime Minister also said the government would be doubling the management payment for SFI to £2000 (i.e. £40/ha for 50/ha) for applications made by March 2025.

This will be a one year payment boost and will apply to existing SFI agreements.

As SFI and CS applications are combined this summer, new CS applicants may attract the management payment.

Applications for the 2024 offer will start this July. We know it will be a controlled roll out, like last year. We expect handbooks to be published before July.

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