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The future of farming: funding and reforms

At our biannual Rural Conference, Manjeet Kumari-Lal (from Defra) spoke to our guests about farming reforms and grant opportunities.

At our biannual Rural Conference, Manjeet Kumari-Lal, head of engagement at Defra, spoke to our guests about farming reforms and grant opportunities for farmers in England.

Manjeet Kumari-Lal of DEFRA speaking at the Rural Conference

Manjeet explained that the farming sector is facing major changes, the biggest changes this generation, in fact. Maximising the efficiency of land is more crucial than ever before.

The reforms being introduced are aimed at maintaining food production and enhancing the environment, climate, and animal health and welfare.

Whilst this level of change may seem daunting to many farmers and landowners, Manjeet also emphasised that funding is available.

Defra is changing how its organisation works with farmers, including through increased investment in farms to help support food production and by introducing new grants and ongoing payments.

The organisation has been working directly with farmers to co-design and test their funding schemes. The new one-off and ongoing payments should therefore centre around farmers’ needs, given that feedback was collated to inform such financial aid.

Further funding for farmers

While BPS area-based funding is declining, as these types of subsidies are being phased out, it is reassuring that the money that would have been spent on this is being reinvested within the farming sector. The new funding options should emphasise flexibility and will allow farmers to benefit from more than one scheme, providing they avoid ‘double funding’.

In relation to this flexibility, Manjeet provided the example of the Sustainable Farming Incentive funding, which can now be applied for quickly via smartphones. This funding offers ongoing payments to farmers who are protecting soils and accessing moorlands.

Other ongoing funding that is currently available includes:

  • The Countryside Stewardship for enhancing the countryside
  • The Nature for Climate Pleatland Grant Scheme
  • EWCO and other schemes offered to farmers who are planting and managing trees

Independent advice and next steps

It is worth noting that environmental land management schemes can be combined, and you can also combine private and public finance options. The Future Farming Resilience Fund provides free business advice from independent providers to help determine which schemes and grants would be most suited to you. This advice is available from now until March 2025.

She also advised farmers and landowners to visit the Gov UK funding for farmers page to find out more about the extent of financial support available to them. More funding will be made available from August 2023 and you can keep up to date with any changes to government funding by signing up for alerts on the Gov UK funding for farmers page: simply click on the ‘get emails about this page’ button and follow the on-screen instructions to subscribe to updates.

To learn more about Defra, visit their gov.uk webpage.

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