Rural Economy Grant is Good News, Says NFU

1 March 2012, at 8:31am

UK - A new 360million government scheme aimed at stimulating the transformation of farm businesses has been met with approval from the National Farmers Union.

The Rural Grants Scheme, launched by Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman, is part of a 3100million investment in the Rural Development Programme for England.

Farmers can apply for grants of between 325,000 and around 31million to help secure the transformation of their businesses. Successful applicants will receive up to 40 per cent of the cost of projects in the five business areas of farm competiveness, agri-food, tourism, forestry, and micro enterprise support.

NFU Vice President Adam Quinney said: "The scheme is good news for the farming industry. Defra wants the capital grants to support projects that will be a ‘game-changer’ in transforming farm businesses and we share this ambition of wanting the fund to bring about real change. It must be used to facilitate investment in projects that will bring lasting benefits, and prepare businesses for the future.

"We also welcome the fact that farmers and growers will have the opportunity to demonstrate to Defra that their project offers the value for money.

"Farmers already have the vision and innovation needed; often what has held them back from developing their businesses is the finance.

"The administration of the scheme needs to be clear and straightforward for the maximum number of farmers to be able to claim.

"We will need to see the banks showing a similar level of confidence in the selected projects, so that farmers have access to the match funds required on the right terms."