I have not been in my role at The Farm Consultancy Group for as many years as some of my ‘more experienced’ colleagues, however, over my 3 years I have never seen, (I’m sure my colleagues will agree) so many grants available at one time. Whether this is BREXIT related or not, now is a great opportunity for small rural/farming businesses to be investing in that ‘highly innovative’ piece of equipment or investing in infrastructure to allow for a diversified income into the business.
We have just seen the window for the Small Grant Scheme close. This grant suited some more than others, however from our office we saw a large uptake of this grant especially as the midday deadline approached. We submitted applications for Cow Collars, Handling Systems, Dribble Bars, Robot Feed Pushers and many more items, and we look forward to hearing the results of this grant scheme over the next few weeks.
We also get involved with a vast array of other projects. I have highlighted just a few, and briefly mentioned which grant route suits each project below:
• We continue to see an uptake in businesses diversifying into farm shops and an increase in expansion of well-established farm shops – the RDPE tourism grant will help fund infrastructure costs to increase tourism in your area, of which most farm shop developments/expansions will fall under this category, as well as holiday accommodation.
• As some farming businesses move away from livestock, we see more and more agricultural buildings being converted to Industrial/Commercial units and into Rural Business Parks – the RDPE Business grant will help fund business development projects, including workspace.
• On Farm Food Processing – whether this be eggs, milk, cheese or meat, our clients are able to do more of the processing on farm. We are involved with an application to invest in a new egg packing plant, a milk vending machine and an ice cream making line – the RDPE Food grant will help fund up to £1Mil for food processing equipment for Farm Businesses and Micro and Small Rural Businesses.
• I have recently been involved with an application to invest in a new collaborative grain store facility, with grain dryer, weighbridge and moisture meter, this has been done through the RDPE Agri-Food Grant.
• The RDPE Farm Productivity grant has allowed us to apply for funding for Robotic equipment, Slurry Management Equipment and Battery Storage for a number of farmers.
Applications for the RDPE Growth Programme, which includes Tourism, Business and Food Grants the first stage, must be submitted by May 31st 2018. You still have plenty of time for the Agri Food Grant and Farm Productivity Grant.
The LEADER grant is still available in some areas. It offers up to around £170,000 of grant money per business. Not all areas have one, and some areas are spent up. As with all grants, I do recommend you think hard about it, as this money will disappear after 29th March 2019, when we will be out of the EU.
Clearly applications need to be assessed, contracts awarded, and the work done, so in reality the last applications must be submitted by September 2018 at the latest.
If you have a potential project in the pipeline and want to know if grant funding is available for this project, then please contact Steph on firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG Office.