Finance · 30 October 2017

Government targets rural productivity boost with £40m grant fund for farmers

Unrecognizable workers hands in protective blue gloves make selection of frozen raspberries. Factory for freezing and packing of fruits and vegetables. Motion blur, low light and visible noise.
Farmers have been encouraged to apply for grants to invest in machinery to improve dairy and fruit processing

Britain’s farmers have been invited to apply for a share of a new £40m grant fund to invest in cutting edge technology and new equipment as the government bids to drive rural productivity.

The fund, available via the Countryside Productivity Scheme, will be delivered as part of the £200m Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is the second phase of the Large Grants scheme announced in July 2017.

Under the scheme, the government has made grants available for livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers to help grow their business by investing in new technologies, such as robotics, to reduce costs or improve product quality.

Read more: Three rural entrepreneurs proving a business can thrive in the countryside

The government has claimed farmers have the chance to make diverse investments, from robotic milking machines to green technology. Funds are also available for new equipment and machinery to improve the processing of milk, meat and fruit.

Announcing the fund at the 2017 World Dairy Summit in Belfast, environment secretary Michael Gove said the grant would help create more exporting opportunities for business owners and boost Britain’s economy.

“Farmers truly are the backbone of our rural economy and as the original friends of the earth, we want to support them to grow more, sell more and export more great British produce – all while doing good for our environment,” Gove said.

“This new funding is a wonderful opportunity for our farmers and food processors to invest in the technology they need to boost productivity, competition and, of course, sustainability as a key factor in future proofing our world leading food and farming industry.”

The first phase of the Large Grants scheme saw £6m set aside for forestry projects, and a £14m fund open for water resource management.

Meanwhile, in July, £30m was made available for projects to boost broadband and connectivity for rural business owners.

Business broadband: The options out there and how to improve connectivity in rural locations

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Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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