With the New Year upon us, it is a good opportunity to cosy up by the fire, take stock of the past year and plan for the future. The highs, lows, misses and near misses. Vicky talks us through…

Health and Safety on farms has been once again in the spotlight this year with over 40 people dying on farms in 2020/21. Wouldn’t this be a great time to each make one small New Years resolution to help you all see through to another year? Perhaps I have watched too many disaster drama episodes of ‘Ice Road Truckers’ on Dave or spent much of my working life supervising vet students, but I increasingly approach my daily work with dynamic risk assessments in my mind.

‘Am I safe doing this?’, ‘Does everyone know the plan for this activity?’, ‘Is there an alternative if something goes wrong?’ or ‘Is this the most efficient way of working?’.

It can be useful to take a step back from regular activities on farm for two minutes, survey the scene and ask yourself if the activity could be made safer or more efficient with simple changes.

After unsafe handling facilities, being unseen is probably one of my most frequent concerns on farm. Many of you will have no doubt struggled to see someone in a farm yard or across a crowded cubicle shed and the HSE found the most common cause of fatal injury in 2020 was being struck by a moving vehicle on a farm. Some of you will have seen me out and about trialling my fluorescent high-vis bib & brace waterproof trousers looking like an extra from ‘Trawler Men’. Aside from losing some of my street cred, they have been well received by clients and cows. Many agricultural stores now stock brightly coloured hats and if I could have one New Years wish, it would be that more people had them.

Money, money, money…..

But before you get too comfy, let’s get thinking about the wide array of opportunities to come. three funds are currently, or about to become, available to farmers for a wide variety of areas including animal health and safe working.

The Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (England) – applications close 7th Jan 2022!

This grant aims to contribute to the cost of equipment and technology to improve the productivity of sustainable farming. It ranges from £2,000 and £25,000, covering a wide variety of equipment.

The list is extensive so here’s a snap shot to wet your appetite: from weigh scales to help calculate efficient productivity, to calving gates to improve safety. Time efficient mobile sheep dippers to cow friendly handling systems. Foot baths and trimming crushes to improve lameness to heat detection systems to improve fertility and calf feeders to accurately nurture your future herd.

In wider terms money is available to:

  • improve agricultural productivity
  • contribute to improved Animal Health and Welfare
  • encourage more sustainable pesticide usage
  • improve air and water quality
  • reduce GHG emissions in line with Net Zero targets
  • reduce unsustainable use of abstracted water
  • encourage sustainable management of woodlands

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) – coming in Spring 2022

The SFI will provide funding towards a vet/vet-led team visit as part of the Annual Health and Welfare Review. The offer will initially be available to farmers in England who are:

  • Keepers of cattle, pigs and sheep with more than 50 pigs, 20 sheep or 10 cattle
  • Currently eligible for BPS

This funding will be available for three years and you can decide with your vet which are the most important aspects to work on for the individual farm. There is more information coming out about this all the time so we will try and keep you up to date with the SFI.

Farming Transformation Fund – Round 1 applications will close on 7 January 2022. Two further grants will open early 2022.

A three-part fund that can contribute towards items that help businesses improve productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability. The first is the water management grant which is designed to make efficient use of water for irrigation and supply for crops. Grants range between £35,000 and £500,000.

There is a tool to help determine whether a project is eligible on the government website. Just search “farming transformation fund project”
Please see the Government websites for full details. If you need any assistance when completing the forms, please do not hesitate to discuss this with us.