Government Announces Support Package for Farming and Food Sector

Various measures designed to benefit farmers, and grow the UK’s farming and food sector, have been announced by the government. A new support package targets domestic food production, and aims to boost innovation in the sector, helping it to reach its economic potential, and recruit the next generation of farming and food leaders.

Defra is planning to double to £80 million the amount of funding given to horticulture businesses when compared to the EU legacy Fruit and Vegetable Aid Scheme, which will be replaced from 2026 onwards. This will include making up to £10 million available to help English orchard growers access equipment, technology and infrastructure to support the growing of British fruit.

In addition, the Government has set out how it will provide further support for farmers affected by wet weather. Building on a commitment to extend the Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers who have been flooded, temporary adjustments will be made for farmers and land managers where the wet weather has led to difficulties carrying out the requirements of the Environmental Land Management Schemes.

There will also be £75 million to support internal drainage boards (IDBs) to accelerate recovery from the winter 2023-24 storms and provide opportunities to modernise and upgrade assets that benefit and support resilience for farms and rural communities. The Environment Agency will be sending the prospectus to all IDBs in late May, inviting applications to the fund. They expect to start confirming the allocation of funding from June 2024.

Launching on 31 May 2024 the £15 million Farm Gate Food Waste Fund will help industry ensure good food makes its way to people rather than going to animal feed or anaerobic digestion.

The government is also launching a new Endemics Disease Scheme with over £72 million of funding and an infrastructure grant for laying hens, with over £20 million of funding as part of the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway.

The Endemics Disease Scheme will help farmers Eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) in cattle, control Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) in pigs and tackle a range of different health conditions in sheep.

Meanwhile, the Laying Hen Housing for Health and Welfare Grant will offer grants of between £5,000 and £500,000 to help laying hen and pullet farmers to improve the health, welfare and productivity of their flocks.

Elsewhere, the government has announced £3 million in support for new and mobile abattoirs through the Farming Investment Fund. This builds on the Smaller Abattoir Fund which opened last year to boost the sustainability and efficiency of red meat and poultry smaller abattoirs across England.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:

‘[These] announcements will turbocharge the growth of our horticultural sector supporting the building of cutting-edge glasshouses and innovative farming techniques to put British fruit and vegetables on our plates all-year round. 

‘We will continue to invest in and support farmers to produce the best of British food to strengthen our food security, championing innovation in the sector.’