Defra adjusts Countryside Productivity scheme after delivery issues

Some farmers are experiencing issues with the delivery of their items in the first round of funding
Some farmers are experiencing issues with the delivery of their items in the first round of funding

Defra has made improvements to the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme after some farmers complained of equipment delivery issues.

The productivity funding scheme, which help farmers to buy the equipment they need to boost productivity, aims to help them save time and increase yields.

It can provide 40% of funding towards specific pieces of agricultural equipment, which help to achieve improvements in animal welfare, resource efficiency or nutrient management.

The scheme has proved popular so far, with more than 3,500 grants worth £23.5 million being awarded to successful applicants.

But some farmers have complained that they are struggling to source equipment within the 150 day deadline because of long lead-in times.

Defra has said it is aware of issues with the delivery of items in the first round of funding within the scheme’s 150 day deadline.

From today (13 June), farmers who purchase their equipment and submit their claims within the 150 day deadline can take delivery of their equipment after the 150 days and will receive payment once the item has been delivered.

Defra will also be opening a second round of funding, due to open in the Autumn, giving farmers who withdrew their applications the option to have it reinstated now or in the next round.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will be contacting grant recipients who have an offer for livestock handling equipment but have withdrawn because of issues with livestock handling equipment, to inform them of this option.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said Defra’s announcement is "very welcome". “The scheme is clearly very popular and these amendments should ensure it does not become a victim of its own success,” he said.

“However, going forward it is important that productivity schemes are based on what is deliverable within time frames that are practical and the NFU looks forward to the opportunity of working with Defra on the design of future schemes.”

The Small Grant scheme is one element within the £200 million package of RDPE funding announced last summer, which aims to boost growth in the rural economy.