£1.2m fund available to South Pennines farm businesses

South Pennine farmers are being urged to apply for a share of a £1.2m fund to help develop new business enterprises.

The South Pennines Leader programme, managed by rural regeneration company Pennine Prospects, is designed to increase farm productivity as well as support small enterprises, farm diversification and tourism.

Successful applicants will receive the capital needed to fund 40% of their project.

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“We are keen to hear from farmers and business owners who may have an idea for diversification or expansion,” says Candy Squire-Watt, the programme co-ordinator. 

“There are so many businesses in the South Pennines that could benefit from this funding…and unlike some other regions with Leader programmes, we haven’t put a cap on individual funding applications”. 

Benefits

The funding has already benefitted one dairy in Calderdale in the Calder Valley.

Brothers Frank and John Hitchen sell their milk directly to independent rounds-men. They also buy milk from other smaller producers, helping them to remain profitable and sustainable in a volatile market.

Farming in the Calder Valley, 1,000m above sea level, can often be challenging, with field sizes averaging around 1ha and herd sizes at 40-50 head a unit.

“We’ll be using the funding to update our processing unit,” the Hitchens told Farmers Weekly. “Modernising our facilities will enable us to put a longer shelf life on our milk, and make us more efficient, allowing us to compete with bigger companies and remain viable.” 

The brothers also plan to update their cow sheds and invest in the wind turbines that help to run the farm. They would encourage other farmers to apply.

Funding guarantees

Ms Squire-Watt wants to reassure potential applicants that Brexit will have no effect on the availability of this budget.

“There has been a recent announcement by the Treasury guaranteeing this funding up to the point that we leave the EU. So if you have an idea, please call and we can discuss it.”

For more information, contact Candy Squire-Watt on 01422 264 685 or visit the South Pennines Leader programme website

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