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Defra Grants: How To Access Financial Aid as a Farmer in 2024

By IntFormalities
Published on June 5, 2024
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Applying for farming funding in 2024 is about knowing your options and understanding the help that is out there. Defra oversees the UK farming industry and there is a revolving round of funding sources and application windows to meet the needs of the industry. Keep reading to learn more about the available options.

A man in a cowboy hat kneeling in a field, thinking about the improvements he will carry out thanks to a DEFRA grant.
DEFRA Grants aim to promote sustainable farming practices, innovation, and environmental stewardship, helping farmers and rural communities to thrive.

What Defra Grants Are Available in 2024?

A wide range of Defra grants are currently open for funding applications, with more in the pipeline. Key highlights include: 

GrantUserBenefit
SFI Annual Health & Welfare ReviewFarmers who rear cattle, pigs, and sheepApply for funded vet visits 
Hen Housing GrantHen and pullet farmers Replace animal housing — will open spring-summer 2024
The Cattle Housing GrantFarmers with cattle aged 6 months and upApply for new fencing and buildings — guidance being finalised. 
Farming Innovation ProgrammeFarmers who want to address nutrient managementApplicants interested in more sustainable farming initiatives are invited to apply in mid 2024
The FETF ProgrammeFarmers who operate equipmentAn annual scheme in which you can apply to purchase upgraded agricultural equipment

Other available grants cover areas such as improved productivity, slurry, and water management. More details of new grants being rolled out can be found here

How Do Defra Grants Work?

All grants and funding applications made with Defra are done in competition with other farms. This is because there is typically a set amount of money put aside, with it then being awarded to the strongest applicants.

Grants for one-off purchases, such as buying land or equipment, will typically be paid in a lump sum to cover the costs of acquisition. Other schemes that require ongoing work will see payments spread throughout the scheme. An example of this is the Countryside Stewardship Scheme that is planned to last for 3-5 years. 

How Much Funding Will Defra Provide?

Schemes such as the SFI will award amounts as small as £372 to cover the price of a vet visit for farms with as few as 11 beef cattle. Equipment applied under the FETF can regularly exceed £50,000 in value. Whereas, more open-ended applications for environmental stewardship will vary depending on the nature of the work and the size of the land. 

How To Apply For Defra Funding in 2024?

To apply for Defra funding you must register for the Rural Payments Service so that you can supply your financial details. Key steps include: 

  • Step 1: Providing proof of identity via photo ID and proof of ownership or right to farm via deeds, leasing agreements, or any other form of requested documentation 
  • Step 2: Making sure you read the specific terms and conditions for the grant you are applying for — this will be shown on the application page 
  • Step 3: Submitting a detailed application and justification of funding, making clear why, where, and when you will use the funding should you be successful 

While this process may seem daunting, it typically takes no more than 20 minutes to complete

What Happens After You Apply to Defra?

Your application will be acknowledged via email within 24 hours of your application. If you do not see it arrive within this window, you should check your junk folder. 

Who Reads Farm Funding Applications? 

Specialist civil servants with experience in assessing similar applications are usually in charge of this procedure. They will score your application, inform you of the outcome, and inform you of your application outcome

What Can’t Defra Funding be Spent on?

While the terms of each grant will be laid out at the time of application, Defra acknowledges that things can change after an application has been made. This will principally happen when you have applied for equipment funding as part of the FETF scheme and new technology has entered the market. 

Defra allows you to buy an item of higher specification in this case, allowing you to upgrade, but it does not allow you to downgrade and buy cheaper equipment than is listed in your original application. 

You also cannot use any source of capital funding to: 

  • Cover the costs of something you already own 
  • Purchase used items or fund a part exchange 
  • Buy any items on hire purchase or lease 
  • Fund any form of home-built equipment 
  • Buy from a business you are linked to or affiliated with 

Can You Receive Other Benefits Alongside Agricultural Funding? 

You will still be eligible for universal credit and future subsidies under the Sustainable Farming Incentive if your Defra funding application is successful. That said, it is your legal responsibility to contact Defra to report any change of circumstances.

A Simpler Approach to Defra Grants

Defra is currently rolling out more grants and funding options, as well as grants to buy land for expansion, and has a particular emphasis on sustainability and stewardship. They aim to empower farmers to do more with their land in a way that also serves the wider environment. 

FAQ’s 

Can a new farmer apply for funding?

Yes, although it is worth remembering that competition from well-established farms could see your application put at a disadvantage. There is the potential for this to be offset by an application that is more detailed and innovative. 

Will Defra provide funding in 2025?

Defra is the branch of government that oversees farming and agriculture and has a strong record of opening up new sources of capital funding. 

Can you use Defra funding to build a home on farmland?

No, while farm buildings that are essential to the operation of the farm can be covered by a grant, this does not extend to building residential properties on available farmland. 

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