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Private sponsorship or grants outside agri-environment schemes?


Helen P wrote on 12 November 2018:

Does anyone have any useful tips on how to go about accessing private sponsorship or grant schemes (other than CS) for farmer groups. I facilitate a group in the SW which is not a CSFF. We are self-funded with the members paying a fee based on the area of land owned. Whilst this is a useful amount it restricts the amount of projects and surveys etc we can get up and running. We have plenty of ideas but I fear that lack of funding could quash our momentum? Any tips or links to good sources would be gratefully received?

Jess Brooks replied on 19 November 2018:

Hello Helen,

I have asked Peter Thompson to reply to your query as he can recount some specific examples that may inspire you. But in the meantime, I know of some ideas that other clusters have had. 1. Funding from the local water company is a good one, if one of your group priorities is to address water quality. 2. I heard a cluster successfully won some money when they entered the project into a local supermarket token fund. 3. Seed suppliers or agronomy companies may sponsor certain activities/events. 4. Local councils often have pots of money available for community projects – check on their website or call. 5. My cluster is part-funded by a private Charitable Trust – there are quite a few out there that you could try, an example being Garfield Weston Trust. 6. Sometimes big corporations (banks, retail, etc) set aside pots of money for community/charitable causes, a quick Google should find who has applications open.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

Good luck


Peter Thompson replied on 21 November 2018:

Hi Helen,

To be honest Jess has covered much of what I was going to say! My own group are partly funded from a business deal made with a local business which has a fund/pot to sponsor local “countryside” management plans/ideas etc. Each farmer also puts in a £1 per hectare of land that they manage.

As Jess has suggested, the more you ask around the more likely you are to come up with something. All the areas she has suggested are most certainly worth a look at, as I am aware of groups who have successfully tapped into these funding streams.

I will also ask a couple of other “facilitators” who I know, that seem particularly adept at seeking out funding to reply to your question.


Colin Hedley replied on 4 January 2019:

Dear Helen,

Peter asked me if I could reply to you way back well before Christmas and my apologies for running out of time then.

I am working with three Farmer Groups within the areas of two water companies and both are helping to fund the Groups in different ways. I believe that all water companies are being required by OFWAT to develop and then deliver their own Payments for Eco-system Services schemes from April 2020 which will then run for five years. Government is expecting the water industry to pay for a significant part of beneficial land management and whatever the objectives of a Cluster it must involve measures which will take land out of more intensive management and replace them with no or low input arable and / or grassland options.

Because of this and them being commercial businesses I would recommend water companies as the best body to approach for funding in the first instance. For one Group where we were unsuccessful in our first bid for the Facilitation Fund Portsmouth Water pay all my costs for facilitating the Group which so far equates to approx £10,000 / year. The other two are both in Southern Water’s area but the company is funding different projects and is keen to use the Groups to test and trial new ideas before the 2020 launch date. There is no doubt that in all three cases it is the formation of the cluster farm groups which has stimulated the engagement from the water company and I am sure this sort of engagement is being talked about a lot across the water industry.

Good Luck!

Thank you very much for your thoughts and advice Colin. We have Wessex Water very interested in what we are doing and they have pledged a sum of money which they would be willing to give to the group for projects and trials but not admin costs. We are busy developing these discussions...……