DTI scheme can

26 April 2002

DTI scheme can

aid new entrants

NEW entrants to farming with limited financial resources could benefit from the Department of Trade and Industrys Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme, believes one rural banker.

Will Organ, senior agricultural manager at NatWests Banbury branch, says the scheme – designed to help small businesses that do not qualify for conventional bank financing – is not widely know within the industry but could help young farmers wishing to start an agricultural business.

Although the scheme itself does not provide any cash, the government will undertake to guarantee 70% of a bank loan up to a maximum of £250,000, enabling the bank to advance money where there is a lack of security or track record.

DEFRA oversees the process on behalf of the DTI and will require to see a full business plan before approving any deal, notes Mr Organ. "The only issue at the moment is that we are not sure what criteria DEFRA will apply to applications. Until we start pushing some through we do not know what they will accept."

A spokeswoman from the SFLGS confirmed that any government help given to farmers was governed by strict European state-aid restrictions and the rules were very complicated. "Farmers can utilise the scheme but it was not designed for them per se."

Anybody with a business plan can check its eligibility by contacting the SFLGS (0114-259 7308). &#42

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