15 November 1996

Grants offer alternative

GRANTS enabling young livestock farmers in the south-west to diversify from mainstream agriculture are to be launched later this month.

The joint £450,000 EU/MAFF project aims to help struggling farmers in the 5b project area of West Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, to start alternative rural enterprises.

The scheme, which is being co-ordinated by Devon and Cornwall Business Link, is open to all beef, sheep and pig farmers under 40, and will last for 18 months.

Bob Baggott, head of Business Link Devon and Cornwall, said the programme would particularly help young beef farmers struggling to make profits in the light of the BSE crisis.

Farmers wishing to take part would receive an initial two-and-a-half day business assessment by ADAS consultants, for which they would be expected to pay up to 20% of the costs.

If the consultants believed the farmer had an opportunity to diversify, they would receive 45% grant aid to market their new business.n