Farmers are being reminded that grants of up to 40% are available to farmers and rural businesses In England investing in projects that will create jobs in rural areas.
The Growth Programme offers up to £140,000 for business development, food processing and small-scale tourism initiatives.
Across England a funding pot of £24m has been made available, but the grants are being delivered by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPS), which individually put out calls for applications in their region.
These are all publicised on a government webpage for European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
Simon Haley, rural business adviser at Reading Agricultural Consultants, said grants of between £35,000 and £140,00 were available, depending on the region’s priorities and what state aid a business had previously received.
“Grants are available for investments in new equipment, processes or technologies; processing and marketing of local food and drink; activities that help farmers to diversify into non-agricultural activities; and construction and development of workshops, factories and machinery.
“Applicants must show how their project will create new sustainable jobs and increase the productivity of their business. For every £30,000 of grant requested, applicants must be able to create at least one new full-time equivalent job [30 hours a week].”
Mr Haley said the money was a fantastic opportunity, but farmers should be aware of the length of time it might take to get a decision on their application and the time it would take to complete one in the first place.
Jumping straight into an application without going through the qualifying criteria first could end up costing someone lots of time and money, he warned.
Applicants need to complete two forms to apply for a grant. The first is an outline application and if that is successful they will they be asked to fill out a full application.
At both stages, applicants will have to wait for a 40-working day appraisal process after the initial deadline. There can also be a further month needed for additional checks.
This means even if the outline application deadline is November 2015, full approval for a grant might not be made until June 2016.
“This is a significant factor that clients need to be aware of, and if the project cannot be delayed for the best part of four to seven months, bearing in mind that no expenditure is to have been incurred before the grant award, then it is best to not start down the grant path at all if the conditions are not agreeable,” said Mr Haley.