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Defra grants available for diversification

14th Nov 2019 / By Alistair Driver

Pig businesses looking to diversify, including into processing, have the opportunity to apply for Government grants of up to £750,000 until mid-February.

Farm ShopThe government’s £35m Growth Programme, which opened for expressions of interest earlier this month, provides grants for rural start-ups and businesses to purchase state-of-the-art equipment and machinery to grow their business or open up opportunities for tourism.

This figure could be increased to £50 million if there are enough high-quality applications.

The scheme has already granted £99 million to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas, according to Defra.

The maximum availabke is £750,000 and for this funding round of the Growth Programme, the threshold for minimum grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000.

The RDPE Growth Programme handbook is available here

It contains information on which projects are deemed eligible for a grant and how to apply.

Interested parties need to send an Expression of Interest form to the Rural Payments Agency, outlining how they meet the criteria for the scheme, including creating new jobs, increasing business turnover and improving productivity.

If the Rural Payments Agency considers the project to be eligible, the applicant will then be invited to submit a full application. The deadline for all Expressions of Interest is Sunday 16 February 2020.

Announcing the scheme, Defra highlighted how the grants can be used to expand into processing. In Sheffield, the farmers behind the brand Our Cow Molly secured a grant of more than £160,000 to invest in a new processing unit, which allowed them to produce higher quality fresh milk and ice cream – creating six new jobs.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “This next round of funding will help more businesses to grow and local areas to prosper – and I would urge any rural enterprise to look into what this scheme could do for them.”

Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency, said: “We are looking to support applications from businesses with ambitious plans to grow their business and provide wider benefits to their local community.

“I would urge all interested applicants to submit their expressions of interest as soon as possible to ensure they have plenty of time to complete a full application if their project is assessed to be eligible.”