Farmers told to take advantage of new grant schemes

Two grant schemes have been announced this month which could boost farmers' incomes
Two grant schemes have been announced this month which could boost farmers' incomes

A new round of grant schemes could boost productivity and unlock new diversification projects for farm businesses, a rural finance expert says.

The government grants, announced earlier this month, could open new opportunities for farmers and growers across the UK.

Under the plans, rural businesses that take advantage of the grants could create jobs, boost tourism and drive growth in the local economy.

The £50m Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme seeks to encourage land managers to create new woodland in return for payments as those trees grow, unlocking potential new revenue streams.

The Defra scheme - which has also been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) - could open new opportunities, encouraging farmers and landowners to plant more trees to help tackle climate change.

The scheme is set to offer successful participants the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units to the government at a guaranteed price every five or ten years up until 2055/56, providing an additional long-term income from forestry activities.

Farmers can still choose to sell CO2 on the open market rather than to the government, but the Defra scheme must be a positive move in helping to combat the effects of climate change.

Pat Cotterill, environmental stewardship specialist at Tow Law's Vickers & Barrass, welcomed Defra's new schemes.

“Those people who opt in to invest in new tree-planting initiatives will also be helping to tackle climate change in a financially advantage way,” she said.

“Trading in Woodland Carbon Units provides a versatile way for farmers and others to secure a new future revenue stream.”

Farmers and rural businesses are also being urged to tap into a £35m cash pot, which is seen as a boost to unlocking new commercial potential and future-proof enterprises.

The latest Rural Growth programme provides grants for start-ups and businesses, which could possibly create thousands of new jobs in rural areas.

This latest funding round will help businesses to grow and prosper and should be considered by local farmers and landowners.

“It comes as a timely opportunity to provide exciting projects in business development, food processing and rural tourism with an added financial boost,” Ms Cotterill said.

“However, it's important you meet all of the criteria for the grant and that you provide a strong expression of interest.”

The applications are in two stages, an expressions of interest form must be completed and if endorsed the applicant will then be invited to submit a full application.