UK farmers have yet another opportunity to take advantage of a government-backed scheme to access financial aid.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that a further £10 million will be available within the coming months under The Animal Health and Welfare Infrastructure Grant.
Successful applications could see farmers gain up to £500,000. But what can this money be used for, and how could you get your hands on a share? We’ve broken down everything you need to know.
The Animal Health And Welfare Infrastructure Grant
The Animal Health and Welfare Infrastructure Grant recently announced its first round of funding. The scheme will make available funds for livestock farmers in England to help improve the quality of life of the animals.
In total, around £19 million has been awarded to poultry, cattle, pig and sheep farmers to date.
The latest update to The Animal Health and Welfare Infrastructure Grant is the “Calf Housing for Health and Welfare grant”, which will apply exclusively to cattle farmers looking to invest in new and upgraded calf housing.
Calf Housing Grant Overview
The grant will offer between £15,000 and £500,000 to co-finance infrastructure projects. Famers will need to fund the rest of the project themselves.
Cattle farmers will be encouraged to use the funding for several types of buildings, including housing for birthing, weaning, and caring for young calves for up to 6 months and will apply for both beef and dairy cows.
The grant aims to increase the number of state-of-the-art facilities in the UK and update older structures to the health and benefit of the calves. Farmers don’t need to use the money on new projects and can apply for funding to upgrade existing facilities and expand current calf housing.
Applying For The Calf Housing For Health And Welfare Grant
The government has yet to announce the exact date applications for the funding will open, but that shouldn’t stop farmers from considering projects and preparing.
With applications opening sometime this summer, there are some steps to take to get an application ready.
Firstly, farmers will need to have a vet consult on the project. The vet must confirm that the project will improve the calves’ lives. The vet will also need to consider the specific details of the farm and calves.
In good news, farmers can apply for an Annual Health and Welfare Review, where farmers can choose a vet to visit for free.
Once open, the application can be made online and should include details of the project specifics. If successful, farmers can expect payments via The Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
Farmers can start gathering information on their planned application: the more details provided, the higher the chance of success.
Grant Restrictions And Specifications
As with most other government agricultural grants, the new Calf Housing for Health and Welfare grant does have pretty strict restrictions and specifications. Applications for projects that do not meet these specifications will not be considered for funding.
The complete list of restrictions can be found on the government website, but notable guidelines include:
- The building must be planned for at least five years of use
- Calves cannot be kept individually (except for health reasons)
- Calves cannot share air with older cows
- The building must have a solid, concrete floor
- The floor must be sloped with drainage channels
- Every pair of calves must have an enrichment item
- Temperature and humidity must be monitored, and the data must be stored
- There must be at least two waterproof IP66 electrical sockets
- Buildings must have a roof that can support solar PV panels (exceptions possible)
Unlike many other grants, the funds can be used to pay for second-hand items, but not if another government scheme has already purchased the items. Farmers seeking funding should ensure their project meets all the specifications.
Supporting Your Farm With Agricultural Loans
While the new grant will no doubt benefit many farmers in England, some are still concerned that the funds will not cover the total cost of a project. The government support scheme is designed to help farmers improve and upgrade their operations, not to fully support them.
This means that farmers should expect to pay some, if not the majority, of costs upfront. This can cause cash flow problems and prevent some farmers from applying for support at all.
For farmers struggling with raising capital, specialist agricultural lenders can offer loans designed to work for cattle farmers who may need longer repayment schedules or unusual amounts.
If you are considering applying for the Calf Housing for Health and Welfare grant and would like to discuss what sort of financial support you could receive to cover the remaining costs, or for livestock loans, contact the Evangate FS team today.