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Government announces new grants for farmers
"Helping farms invest in new technology as well as bringing in nature-friendly schemes will support the future of farming.” – farming minister Mark Spencer
Improving animal health and welfare is one of the key aims.   

Defra has announced grants worth more than £168 million will be made available to farmers this year.

Farming minister Mark Spencer unveiled the new funding during his speech at the National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, 21 February.

The grants are intended to encourage technological innovation, support sustainable food production, protect the environment and enhance animal health and welfare. 

The funding is in addition to the Environmental Land Management schemes which pay farmers to provide environmental goods and services. It will be delivered through the Farming Innovation Programme (FIP) and the Farming Investment Fund (FIF).

Mr Spencer said: “The role farmers play in putting food on our tables as well as looking after our countryside is crucial. We know that sustainable food production depends on a healthy environment, the two go hand in hand.

"Helping farms invest in new technology as well as bringing in nature-friendly schemes will support the future of farming.”

Compassion in World Farming has responded to the announcement by arguing that more needs to be done to improve animal welfare in the farming industry.

Nick Palmer, head of Compassion in World Farming UK, said: “While Compassion in World Farming welcomes support for the farming sector, farmers need clarity in both the short and the long term on how Government support will evolve so that they can plan their future.

“We are still waiting for the crucial Animal Health and Welfare Pathway details, as a longer-term vision to help farmers shift to a more sustainable higher-welfare model is almost entirely missing. We urge Defra to bring forward the full strategy as soon as possible, including a real commitment to ending cruel cage and crate systems with support for the industry to adapt effectively.”

Funding is also being made available to help small abattoirs invest in new technology, increase their productivity, and improve animal health and welfare. The announcement follows a 20 per cent drop in the number of small abattoirs during the last decade, leading to increased journey times for some animals.

Mr Spencer added: “If farming is to flourish then we need to get the fundamentals right - abattoirs are key to the food supply chain and there is clearly a need to support smaller providers in this area.”

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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Duchess of York stars in charity calendar

The National Foundation for Retired Service Animals (NFRSA) has released its charity calendar for 2024, featuring Sarah, Duchess of York and a selection of the retired service animals the charity supports.

The 12 images were taken by animal photographer Gerry Slade and include retired police dogs and horses, a former border force detector dog, and a retired fire investigation and urban search and rescue dog.

Sarah, Duchess of York, who is a patron of the charity, appears alongside retired police dog Jessie in the photograph for December.

So far this year, the charity has given more than 40,000 in grants to help former service animals with their veterinary care. After retirement, they receive no financial support from the Government and obtaining affordable insurance can be difficult.