£60m rural fund open for business

BUSINESSES are being advised to apply now for funding under a new rural grant scheme.

Worth up to £60 million in total, the government's Rural Economy Grant Scheme (REG) was launched under the Rural Development Program for England (RDPE) at the end of February.

It is in addition to the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS) launched in November 2011. Grants under the REG will provide £25,000 to £1 million for eligible projects.

The scheme provides grants across five categories. They are:

* Farm Competiveness
* Agri-Food
* Rural Tourism
* Forestry
* Micro Enterprise Support

The farm competiveness category has three sub-categories: nutrient management, water resource management, and animal health and welfare.

Savills Agribusiness director Robert Hall said the grant scheme could make a real difference to farming and rural business. "For those with good eligible projects it will provide very important funding, giving the potential project a kick start, boosting growth, profits and competitiveness."

Rural businesses should submit their applications as part of a two-stage process, said Mr Hall. The first stage requires the submission of a project outline, detailing the need for investment, the benefits and how it fits in with the appropriate category.

If the outline application is endorsed then applicants will be invited to put forward their full, more in depth application. This will require a business plan and supporting evidence to help demonstrate the deliverability of the project.

Applications must be submitted by 5.00pm on 30 April 2012. Mr Hall said: "The scheme has limited funds and is competitive so it is essential that projects, business plans and evidence are all of a high quality."



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