Selaine Saxby MP welcomed the investment for North Devon farmers in animal health and welfare equipment and technology grants as Government backs plans to boost British produce on Back British Farming Day.
DEFRA have recently awarded £312,131 to farmers in North Devon who applied for the first round of Animal Health and Welfare Equipment and Technology grants, part of the Farming Investment Fund. This was part of a total £19 million awarded to over 3,300 pig, poultry, sheep and cattle farmers who successfully applied to the fund.
These grants, for sums between £1,000 and £25,000, will help farmers to invest in items ranging from livestock handling equipment to reduce lameness in sheep and cattle, to automated monitoring systems which free-up farmers’ time and limit environmental stress in poultry housing. They form part of the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which supports farmers to transition to higher welfare practices and systems, whilst improving animal health, boosting productivity and encouraging sustainable food production.
Ms Saxby, MP for North Devon said:
“I’m proud to wear the wheatsheaf pin badge on Back British Farming Day to show my support for the farmers and growers in North Devon who do a fantastic job in providing the nation with high-quality and climate-friendly food, all whilst caring for our much loved countryside.”
“I welcome this recent specific funding into North Devon but I also know that many people have missed out and will need to reapply. I have also been pressing Slurry Infrastructure Grants to be made more widely available. Everyone can apply but it appears for now that the funds are being heavily directed at those areas who have the greatest nutrient neutrality concerns.
I am encouraging everyone who needs Slurry Infrastructure Grants to apply, even if you do not get one it will hopefully show DEFRA and Ministers that the demand and need for more funding, more widely dispersed is desperately needed now, not later.”
On Back British Farming Day the Government is building on the commitment to keep producing 60% of the food we consume here in the UK, and providing a boost to the UK’s £127 billion food and farming sector, the Food and Farming Secretary has backed calls from the NFU and MPs like Ms Saxby for industry-led action to signpost customers to ‘buy British’ when they shop online and will support campaigns to endorse the taste and quality of home-grown meat and dairy products.
The government has also confirmed that farmers producing sustainable British food under our environmental land management schemes will be able to use them to help meet public procurement standards, benefiting our British farmers and allowing the public sector to benefit from more excellent British food.
To ensure British produce is enjoyed both at home and around the world, the government has started the recruitment drive appointment of five extra agri-food attaches to unlock new trading markets, adding a further boost to the UK’s food and drink exports which bring £24 billion to the British economy.
Food and Farming Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:
“This government will always back British farmers who produce some of the highest quality food in the world, contribute billions to our economy, and are the custodians of our countryside.
“Today’s announcements are acting on commitments made at the Farm to Fork Summit and driving forward our new farming schemes to deliver a profitable and sustainable food and farming sector that delivers for people and our planet now and into the future.”
The government’s flexible and accessible farming schemes are supporting farmers to produce high-quality food while delivering for the environment. An increasing number of farmers are taking part in our environmental land management schemes, with 32,000 Countryside Stewardship agreements successfully in place across England for 2023 - a 94% increase in since 2020 - and over 6,000 applications already received this year.
The new and improved Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 – which has 23 actions on offer for farmers - is currently accepting expressions of interest, with farmers and will start accepting applications from 18 September. Today, in recognition of the challenges faced with inflation and rising input costs, we are confirming that farmers who have a live Sustainable Farming Incentive 2023 (SFI) agreement before the end of the year, will receive an accelerated payment in the first month of their agreement, helping with cashflow and ensuring SFI works for farm businesses.
Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:
“I continue to do all I can to support British farmers and growers and our flexible new farming schemes and continued investment in technology and automation are already delivering positive outcomes for domestic food production and the environment.
“With another record year for Countryside Stewardship, it’s great to see so many farmers signing up and getting involved. I will continue to work closely with the sector to take on board feedback to ensure our schemes work in the best possible way so farmers can run profitable and sustainable businesses into the future”.
The government will also identify opportunities to remove unnecessary burdens for Small Abattoirs to make it easier for them to operate and support farmers in reaching local and international markets. This will be supported by a £4 million Small Abattoir Fund – opening by the end of 2023 – to improve productivity, enhance animal health and welfare, and encourage investment in new technologies.
The support for Small Abattoirs is the latest move by government to increase fairness in the supply chain, with new regulations for the dairy and pig sectors to be introduced next year, and consultations on eggs and horticulture supply chains launching later this year.
It comes as the government continues to invest in innovation and automation to increase productivity, with £30 million announced today for farmers to invest in automated, robotic and solar technologies. Later this year, farmers will be able to bid for a share of £15 million to install solar equipment which, alongside a further £15 million to invest in automation and robotics, will help them reduce fossil fuel use, improve their energy resilience and accelerate progress towards net zero.