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More funding for farmers as new blueprint for water announced

Farmers will benefit from significant additional funding to better manage slurry storage and to store and use water more efficiently, as a key part of a new Plan for Water published by the government today.

Better management of slurry from farming means less pollution washing off into our rivers when it rains. More investment into water supply will mean farmers are more prepared for climate change impacts – from reservoirs to better irrigation.


Nearly £34 million will be made available through the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant - more than two-and-a-half times the original budget.


The government will also publish the guidance for the second round of the Water Management Grant, which will open for applications later in April and provide £10 million in funding to help farmers manage their water use through better irrigation and more on-farm reservoirs.


The government’s new Plan for Water has been published today, covering both the quality of the water environment – how clean it is – and water resources - how much of it we have. It will transform the whole water system - tackling every source of pollution, including from storm overflows, agriculture, plastics, road run-off, chemicals and pesticides, as well as the pressures on our water supply as a result of hotter, drier summers and population growth.


The announcements by the government today go even further to support farmers on water, from doubling funding to £15 million to give free advice to farmers across the country through the Catchment Sensitive Farming scheme, to accelerating the rollout of the Sustainable Farming Incentive which will help farmers to use their land in a way that keeps valuable nutrients and soil on the farm and stops them running off into our rivers, lakes and streams. .


The funding is being provided through the government’s £2.4 billion annual investment in the farming sector for the rest of this Parliament.


Farming Minister Mark Spencer said: "Communities across the country want to see clean and plentiful water in our rivers and streams, and farmers have a huge role in helping to deliver this.


"We know that farmers want to do the right thing, which is why - as part of today’s Plan for Water – we’re providing even more funding for farmers both to reduce their water pollution from slurry and better manage the water on their farms."


Funding boost for slurry storage


Investing in good slurry management is an important step that farmers can take to protect the environment. With around half of slurry stores in England not being fit-for-purpose, the grant will provide farmers with between £25,000-£250,000 to build, replace or expand storage and can contribute towards a range of solutions like lagoons, steel and concrete ring tanks and large slurry bags.


More than 1,200 applications were received for the first round of the grant. Defra wants to help as many farms as possible to upgrade their slurry storage, but needs to balance the high demand for grants with the capacity of slurry store suppliers to increase production.


374 projects have been invited to submit a full application for a share of £33.9 million in funding – up from £13.2 million when the grant was first announced last year. This is based on an assessment of what the market could handle following conversations with suppliers and installers and considering the types of store farmers have applied for.


Second round for water management grant


The second round of the Water Management Grant will see £10 million in funding made available for farmers to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by constructing on-farm reservoirs and adopting best practice irrigation application equipment.


Grants will be available for between £35,000 and £500,000, which will ensure that funding supports farms of all sizes while committing to supporting higher value projects which align with the fund’s objectives.


The grant will be open later in April with an online checker available to help farmers determine their eligibility and likelihood of success.


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