Scottish farm businesses benefit from £2.1m recovery fund

Farming ventures are set to benefit from a £2.1m funding package to encourage economic growth in southern Scotland following the coronavirus crisis.

A total of 28 projects across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders have been earmarked for funding through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (Sosep).

Grants range from £17,200 for feasibility studies to £880,000 for the largest community and tourism projects.

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The largest payout for a farming venture is £59,600 to help develop a livestock transport hub in the region.

Central to the initiative is a holding facility to house stock before transport and processing.

The project will help local farmers collaborate in organising transport to reduce haulage times and costs.

Other farming beneficiaries include:

Farm Innovation Cows & Co (£20,000)

Funding will pay for a feasibility study into a waste-to-energy power plant. The aim is to reduce energy costs for participating farms and generate innovative business diversification activities.

Alternative Land Use (£20,000)  

Cash will be used to look into growing a range of alternative crops in the area which is dominated by traditional farming and forestry.

Potential ventures include energy, pharmaceutical, forestry, industrial and salad crops as well as field-scale vegetables.

Littleton Farm AD Plant (£20,000)

The successful applicants will use the payout to consider the creation of an on-farm industrial estate. The Agri-Park estate will be powered by farm waste converted to energy in a commercial-scale anaerobic digestion plant.

Winkston Hill Farm (£20,000)

Funding will support a feasibility study into an on-farm education and activity centre to educate teachers, parents and their children about farming. The owners stressed that the venture was not a standard farm park attraction but a working agricultural business.

Border Union Agricultural Society (£20,000)

The society will look at developing the Border Union’s Springwood Park into a weatherproof events centre.

Regional Food Chain (£20,000)

Funding will pay for a study into creating a food chain hub in Castle Douglas. If successful the hub will support all aspects of food and drink innovation to enable local micro-businesses to compete for new markets.

Scotland’s rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon said the funding package would help create jobs, support businesses and develop skills.

“As we safely move out of lockdown it is vital that we work together and look to the future to restore and renew our economy,” Ms Gougeon said.

“Many of the projects will help key industries in the region which have been hit hard by the pandemic as they work to recover and grow.”