22 March 2002

Rate relief for diversification

FARMERS who have diversified their businesses during the past 12 months could be missing out on rate relief, according to John Welbank, of the Bowland Initiative.

"Agricultural businesses are exempt from rates but as soon as that business diversifies it becomes liable to full rates. As part of the governments support for farm businesses in the aftermath of foot-and-mouth, any farm that diversified after February 2001 is eligible for rate relief," said Mr Welbank.

The Bowland Initiative, which has helped many Lancs farms gain funding for diversification projects, is urging farmers to contact their local district councils business rates office to clarify the situation.

"Minimising costs during the early stages of the business is vital and yet district councils in the north-west – one of the areas hardest hit by foot and mouth – have received almost no applications for rate relief." &#42