Dipping into the funding streams

CLA Regional Adviser Katy Anderson explains how to make the most of grant funding and boost your rural business.

The world of funding can seem like a complicated maze of acronyms, lengthy forms and endless guidance, rules and regulations. Unfortunately there are quite a lot of acronyms and you do have to fill in a form or two but coming out the other side successful applicants are given thousands of pounds of grant funding to support fantastic projects.

Whilst we remain a member of the EU the grants remain open to farmers, foresters, rural businesses and rural community groups and our message is go out and get it.

Funding is available to support a huge range of projects. Looking back at what has already been funded we see there have been wedding venues in Essex, firewood processing equipment in Bedfordshire, minimum tillage drills in Cambridgeshire, DIY liveries in Norfolk, B&Bs in Northamptonshire, and a seed cleaning and drying plant in Lincolnshire. These are just a few examples.

The grants are quite substantial, starting at £2,500 and in some instances going up to £1million so projects of all shapes and sizes have the opportunity to be supported through these various schemes.

Knowing where to start can be the trickiest part. If you’re looking at something more farming or forestry based then your options are Countryside Productivity or LEADER where both schemes are keen to support improving farm and forestry productivity, as well as water resource management. If you’re looking more down the diversification or rural tourism route then you will need to be looking at LEADER and the Growth Programme. If you’re looking at food processing then you should look at all three schemes and decide which best fits your project.

All three schemes are administered at different levels with Countryside Productivity being a national scheme, the Growth Programme working with regional priorities and LEADER very much being a local scheme. It’s about finding the scheme which best matches up to your project and where you can achieve many of the national and local priorities to give you the best chance of being awarded a grant.

My advice would be, if you are thinking about setting up a new business or expanding a business – even if it’s just purchasing a new piece of material then have a look into the grant funding that is available – there could be a significant amount of money just waiting to be invested in your rural business.