Are you missing out on grant aid?

Published 22 February 10

Nearly a hundred dairy farmers from across the Midlands gathered at a meeting in Mid February, in Tissington, Derbyshire, to hear about the grant opportunities available to them.

The event, hosted by DairyCo, brought together representatives of the major government funding bodies across the area.

"We had speakers from Natural England, East Midlands Development Agency, Business Link, Advantage West Midlands and Catchment Sensitive Farming, to give dairy farmer across the Midlands a comprehensive understanding of what is available, what kind of activity can be funded and how to apply for funding," explained Judith Stafford, local DairyCo Extension Officer.

"There are some real opportunities and dairy farmers across the Midlands need to make sure they are not missing out!" she continued. "There is money available for investment in a range of activities such as training, equipment or building improvements that go beyond the basic industry legislative minimum, and that can be used to improve the economic viability of a business, the health and welfare status of the herd or its environmental impact.

"There are slightly different criteria and application processes depending on where you farm, but by bringing representatives from both the East and West Midlands together at this meeting we managed to cover the whole area," Judith explained.

Jamie Inglis from Advantage West Midlands spoke about the grant scheme most applicable to dairy farmers in the West Midlands area.

"RDPE (Rural Development Program for England) grants are available, via Advantage West Midlands, for business plans and feasibility studies to support other grant applications, for the processing and marketing of dairy products, for animal health and welfare, for farm diversification and training and knowledge transfer," said Jamie Inglis. "We are in the process of developing a grant scheme for nutrient management which will be available in the summer.

"The business plans and feasibility studies to support other grant applications are delivered in the West Midlands by Business Link ," explained Jamie Inglis, "The rate of grant is generally about 40% and is available to all commercial dairy farmers and milk processors with eligible projects. It can cover things like business reviews, support to prepare consultants briefs, and preparation of feasibility studies, including professional fees.

"For the processing and marketing of dairy products the grants again is 40%," he continued. "It's available to commercial farmers and eligible items are capital costs (including new buildings, building conversions, equipment, machinery and infrastructure) and product development (branding and design costs).

"For animal health and welfare the grant rate is 80% for Health Plans and 40% for capital grants. The minimum grant is £2,500 and the maximum is £62,500. Applications for a capital grant must be supported by a farm health plan prepared by a vet who is registered with Lantra. Funded actions must improve or deliver standards higher than those laid out in legislative requirements," Jamie Inglis said.

Example of eligible items for this grant include remote monitoring equipment, cluster flushing equipment, pedometers and other automated heat equipment. Livestock handling equipment like electronic weigh cells, crushes, squeezes and automatic shedding systems and improvements to buildings, small scale work designed to improve the housing of farmed animals, can also be eligible.

"For farm diversification the grant rate is 40%. It's available to commercial dairy farmers and members of their households," Jamie Inglis explained. "A very wide range of potential projects can be supported, for example farm processing and electricity generation for sale into the grid.

"Training and knowledge transfer grants are available to those earning an income from agriculture or forestry. The grant rate is 80% and eligible activity include most types of training where there is a gap in provision, knowledge transfer, business clubs and seminars." These grants are delivered by Lantra through the LandSkills West Midlands programme.

Jamie Inglis concluded, "There are different points in the application for each scheme but each has a detailed application procedure, requires a detailed application including a good business case. You'll need a full audit trail for all project and they are inspected by us."

For more information about grants via Advantage West Midlands go to www. advantagewm .co. uk /working-with-us/ rdpe /default. aspx or contact your Rural Hub

Staffordshire - Frances Beatty Office 01889 508784

Warwickshire - Carrie Robbins Office 02476 858242

Herefordshire - Cathy Meredith Office 01432 870033

Worcestershire - Valerie Breakwell Office 01905 622 272

Shropshire - Victoria Jones Office 01939 262106

For more information about grant funding for dairy farmers in the East Midlands contact the East Midlands Development Agency on
For more information about the Entry Level Scheme contact Natural England at
Contact Business Link at
Contact Catchment Sensitive Farming at


Nutrient Management

The nutrient management grant is under development and has not yet been launched by the RDPE in the West Midlands, but below is some information about it;

  • The rate of grant will be 80% for nutrient plans and 40% for capital grants
  • The minimum grant is £2,500, the maximum is £62,500
  • It will be available to all commercial dairy farmers
  • Applications for capital grants must be supported by a nutrient management plan.
  • Funded projects will require applicants to make substantial improvements to their farming activities.
  • Actions must improve or deliver standards laid out in legislative requirements.
  • Examples of eligible items include clean and dirty water collection  and transfer systems, floating covers to tanks and lagoons and Slurry injectors, trailing shoes designed to fit safely to slurry tankers.