New grant scheme to help farm and food processing productivity
Farmers and food processors in Shropshire are being invited to apply to a new £40m fund for grants to harness new technology to improve productivity or to invest in new equipment and machinery.
The Countryside Productivity Scheme has opened two funding streams as part of its drive to boost the rural economy through the Government’s Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
Grants are available for livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers to tap into the use of new technologies under its ‘Improving Farm Productivity’ fund.
These could include introducing robotic equipment and systems to aid crop and livestock production, the use of renewable energy produced on farm by improving energy storage and distribution, LED wavelength controlled lighting to aid crop production and the more efficient use of livestock slurries and manures, and digestate.
The ‘Adding Value to Agri food’ strand is open to food and drink businesses and farmers in rural or urban areas to improve the processing of primary agricultural products to shorten supply chains and benefit the primary producers.
Projects must be for processing agri-food products only including meat, milk, grain, fruit and vegetables, and grant funding can help pay for equipment and machinery or constructing or improving buildings that are associated with all aspects of processing.
The RDPE is delivered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
It is the second phase of the Large Grants scheme announced in July 2017, which included a £6 million fund for improving forestry productivity and a £14 million scheme for water resource management.
Gill Hamer, Director of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said it was welcome news for the agriculture and food related businesses.
“Agriculture and food processing is one of the major sectors in the Marches with more than 6,300 farm holdings in the region and more than 9,000 people employed in the industry.