Rural farms and businesses will soon benefit from grants

Around 1,000 rural farms and businesses will soon turn business plans into reality as the first grants from the new £20 million Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme are approved by Defra.

Farmers, foresters and horticulturalists will receive grants of up to £25,000 to invest in green projects and new machinery so their businesses can grow in a more sustainable way.

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will fund new profit-boosting green schemes that: save energy and reduce carbon emissions; reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers through better use of manures; improve soil quality; improve animal health and welfare; save and recycle water and promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently.

Farming Minister, Jim Paice said: “Great news will hit the doormats of about a thousand rural businesses and farms over the next few weeks as we enable them to take new opportunities to boost their profits.

“Grants of thousands of pounds will allow businesses to adopt greener and more efficient ways of working that will protect and improve the environment as well as grow the rural economy.”

Over the coming weeks successful applicants from the first round of the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will receive letters to notify them of their success.

Further funding will be available through a second round for applications opening in May.

Grants of between £2,500 and £25,000 will cover 40% of the total cost of projects, with up to 50% funding available for projects in upland areas.

This scheme is part of Defra’s £100 million package of investments through the Rural Development Programme for England that was announced in the Rural Economy Growth Review in November 2011.

The £60 million Rural Economy Grant scheme is open for entrepreneurs in rural areas to apply for life-changing grants, which could be worth more than £1 million each, to grow their businesses.

The new £20 million Skills and Knowledge Transfer Network will start delivering training later this year.

Applicants to Scheme were assessed on their ability to meet one or more of six objectives.