Wednesday, 20 June, 2001

By FWi staff

THE EAST of England Development Agency is the latest rural development agency to attract funding for a post foot-and-mouth recovery plan.

The agency attracted 1.5m, small beer compared with earlier pay-outs to harder hit areas. The south west has attracted 11.5m worth grants and the north west predicts a total fund of 16m.

In all RDA recovery plans direct support for agriculture is prohibited under EU state aid rules. Nevertheless, the RDAs are keen to stress that farmers can benefit from the other elements.

Business support is available to all farms to help them develop recovery plans or farm strategy, and farmers involved in tourism should also gain.

Ray Kessell of the North West Development Agency explains: “We will be funding programs to generically market tourism in the north west area. Many farmers are involved in tourism and so will gain from this indirectly.

“Where farmers miss out is direct grant schemes, such as interest rate relief scheme, direct market support and an IT grant scheme.”

In the north west, further training is available, via a project in the north west run by Myerscough College, Lancashire.

This scheme specifically targets farmers, whose businesses have been put on hold by foot-and-mouth culls and gives them the opportunity to learn IT skills and plan a future for their businesses.

The EEDA plan, announced at the East of England Show last Friday, aims to help small rural businesses, boost tourism and support farmers markets and the local food chain.

Marie Skinner, board member of the EEDA, explained why the region needed support: “Initial research shows that up to 10% of the regions economy might be affected.

“With 3bn a year coming into the regional economy from agriculture and food processing, and 4bn a year from tourism, we can now provide some help in these difficult times.”

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