Defra has created a £20m fund to help farmers and rural businesses increase profitability and reduce their impact on the environment.

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme, which was launched by food and farming minister Jim Paice today, is part of Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England and provides grants of between £2,500 and £25,000 to farmers, foresters, contractors and horticulturalists.

Applicants have to show the funding will help them improve the health and welfare of farm animals or save, recycle or reuse rainwater.

Paice said the government wanted rural businesses to thrive while making improvements to the environment. “This new fund will help farmers, foresters and horticulturists to boost their profits and use greener and more efficient ways of working,” he added.