Government launches two new grant schemes for rural business

Two new grant funds were launched yesterday from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), seeking to help support agricultural and rural business under the Countryside Productivity scheme.

The first is the Improving Farm Productivity grant, which has a deadline of the 3 December 2018 for applications. This seeks to fund projects that can be finished and grant claims submitted by 31 December 2020. Grant items included in the handbook are:

  • The use of robotic equipment and systems to aid crop and livestock production
  • Increasing the use of renewable heat and electricity produced on farm by improving energy storage and distribution (including heat distribution networks for renewable heat schemes and battery storage to make better use of self-generated power)
  • The use of LED wavelength controlled lighting to aid crop production
  • More efficient use of livestock slurries and manures, and digestate

The second is the Adding Value to Agri-food grant, which has a deadline of 29 June 2018 for expressions of interest. It similarly seeks to fund projects that can be completed by December 2020. The handbook states the following:

“These grants are to improve the processing of primary agricultural products to shorten supply chains and deliver benefits to primary producers. Projects must be for the processing of Annex I (see page 29 of the handbook) Agri-food products only including meat, milk, grain, fruit and vegetables. Grant funding can help pay for:

  • Equipment and machinery
  • Constructing or improving buildings associated with all aspects of processing”

Examples in the handbook include investment in grading and packing equipment for vegetables, an egg processing facility and an extension to a dairy enterprise.

In both cases, the minimum funding is £35,000. In the case of the Improving Farm Productivity grant, the funding will cover up to 40% of the eligible costs of the project, giving a minimum total cost of £87,500. At least 60% of the project funding must be met from private sources, such as savings or a bank loan. Public funds towards the project are acceptable but will reduce the grant offered. The maximum grant available is £1M.

The availability of these grants is welcome in the industry to help support investment for the future and to improve business cases for projects. The grants helpline is available on 03000 200 301 or email [email protected]. Alternatively, speak to one of the team here at FEC Energy if you have an energy project that you think could be eligible for support and to find out more. 

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