However, these diversification projects often require significant capital investment to get off the ground. So, when new funding becomes available towards such projects, any farming business with diversification plans should take the time to see if their project will be eligible.
As part of their ongoing commitment to support projects which will grow the rural economy and jobs market, the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) are welcoming applications for grants from a minimum of £20,000 and up to £175,000 across the following 3 areas:
Business Development – Grants of £20,000 to £175,000 at up to 40% of total project cost. These grants are only available to small rural businesses and farmers seeking to diversify by either opening up new markets by creating a higher quality of an existing product or setting up an entirely new enterprise within a business.
Food Processing - Grants of £20,000 to £750,000 at up to 40% of total project cost. These grants are for businesses processing agricultural and horticultural products and so covers meat, milk, grain, fruit and root vegetables amongst others.
Business Development and Food Processing grants can help fund the constructing and improving buildings or the purchase of new machinery where an increase in jobs or a growth of the business will be a direct outcome of the grant.
Rural Tourism Infrastructure - Grants of £20,000 to £175,000. The proportion of project costs that can be funded varies. Projects which generate no income and which benefit all of the tourism sector can secure 100% funding, but projects developed by individual businesses are only eligible for 40% funding. The tourism opportunity has successfully funded digital interpretation, signage and footpath projects in the past.
Rural Tourism Infrastructure grants can help fund capital projects and tourism infrastructure with the objective that more tourists visit rural areas, stay longer and spend more while they’re there.
The deadline for expressing interest in these grants, which are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), is 16 February 2020.
These grants are also “Brexit-Proof” in that the UK government has guaranteed that any RDPE projects where funding has been secured before the end of 2020 will be funded to their completion even in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Information on how to apply for the grants are included in the handbooks linked to above and any queries can be addressed to the Rural Payments Agency directly on 03000 200 301 or GPEnquiries@rpa.gov.uk