Defra announces £200 million RDPE funding

Mixed farming landscape Herefordshire_44286Rural businesses will benefit from £200 million of grant funding under the latest round of the Rural Development Programme for England.

Defra Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner outlined the plans on Saturday at the Suffolk Food Hall, near Ipswich. Eligible businesses will be able to apply for significant funds to invest in new infrastructure, such as new machinery and buildings, improving farm productivity and rural tourism opportunities.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “We welcome this announcement of grant funding for rural businesses. This represents an opportunity for farmers to improve their productivity, profitability and progressiveness.

“However, these are complex schemes and government needs to ensure that they are accessible and straightforward to apply for, so that the financial benefits can be maximised by farmers.

“Specific funding will be available to support new rural broadband projects. We are expecting the money to go to the existing broadband roll-out schemes, rather than a targeted fund that would we would like to see provide farmers with better digital connectivity.  

"The opening of the reservoir scheme in the RDPE funding package is good news for growers, and comes at a time when many farmers are feeling vulnerable to the risk of drought. We are disappointed though that the grant funding rules would bar entry into the scheme for some farmers in our most water-stressed areas.”

The funding includes:  

  • £120m for countryside productivity to help farmers, foresters and landowners manage their land more effectively
  • £45m for the Growth Programme for businesses to invest in their company to expand , diversify or invest in new technology
  • £30m for improvements to rural broadband which will supplement existing investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

A further £6.6m will be available for animal health and welfare projects. The full announcement is available here.

How you can apply...

Grant applications for Growth Programme money is now open. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2018. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) may be able to support you in developing your application (LEP contact details can be found from page 34 of this handbook).  

Grants for Countryside Productivity both large (more than £35k) and small (less than £35k), will be available for a wide range of purposes including LED lighting, slurry application systems and poultry litter drying systems. It is anticipated that these will all be open by the end of the year.

LEADER programme

The LEADER programme can offer grants to improve farm productivity.  Under the scheme, local businesses, farmers, and land managers can apply for funding for projects that can help their business to grow and benefit the rural economy.  

Funding is available through your local LEADER group, with each area listing their own local funding priorities. If you have an idea that you think could be funded by LEADER the first step is to contact your local group - the contact details for each LEADER group can be found here

Below are examples showing how LEADER funding has been used on farms across the country. The document is related items outlines the types of equipment that may be eligible for LEADER grants.

  • Potato washing facility - a grant towards the total costs of a potato washing facility to meet new industry standards
  • No tillage seed drill – a grant towards a no till seed drill so that the crops could be produced at lower cost and with less damage to the environment
  • Hoof trimmer – a grant for and installation of a hoof trimmer chute to improve both animal health and workers' health and safety
  • Dispatch facility - a grant towards the refurbishment of a barn to create an organic dispatch facility on the farm
  • Apple grading machine – a LEADER grant to buy a new, high-tech grading machine
  • Vineyard equipment – a grant towards the purchase of a disgorging/dosing machine to process sparkling wine.

More examples of projects funded by LEADER can be found through the following links:

Updates will be made to this web page once grant calls have been announced. To view current examples and successes, see the case studies below.

Case study: Our Cow Molly, Yorkshire

Eddie Andrew_24356

The Our Cow Molly dairy company in Sheffield received £160,000 to diversify. Our Cow Molly now sells its award-winning ice to major supermarkets across the country, and has created five new jobs as result of the funding.

Eddie Andrew, Director of Our Cow Molly, said: “Thanks to a grant from the Rural Development Programme we were able to expand our business and build Sheffield its own modern milk processing dairy right on our farm – and we now supply milk to the whole University of Sheffield and major supermarkets across the region."

Poplar Farm Flowers, Lincolnshire

To help the business meet the growing demand for lilies, tulips and other cut flowers, a £129,000 grant from the RDPE has helped it to purchase a state of the art flower bunching and packing line, improving its output by 50%.

While UK retailers traditionally import bunched flowers from Holland or the Southern Hemisphere, this investment has meant Poplar Farm Flowers can now supply more of its home-grown products to supermarkets and become more competitive in the marketplace. The funding is expected to bring 20%year-on-year growth to the company and create 10 new full time jobs in the region.

Biddenden Vineyards, KentBiddenden Vineyards_45527

A family run business in Kent producing English wines, ciders and fruit juices identified that in order to grow and expand and meet market demand they need to invest in a new winery roof and modern, efficient equipment.

Biddenden Vineyards received £70,000 from the RDPE to install new equipment and expand its services, helping it to make the most of the growing demand for Kent’s top quality apples.

The funding boost has helped it to create a new award-winning apple cider, while helping other local apple growers and businesses get off the ground. The new machinery has meant the company can now provide juice and processing services to other local farmers and producers, allowing them to take new products to market. By the end of 2018 the project will have helped Biddenden create three new full-time jobs.

Valefresco, Worcestershire

baby Leaves_6465

Salad producers Valefresco were approached to supply more pak choi and baby leaf salads to a leading supermarket in a bagged and punnetted format.

While the company previously had one bagging line constantly in operation, thanks to a £98,000 grant under the Growth Programme it was able to invest in new equipment and machinery - allowing it to develop an additional £500,000 worth of sales with the supermarket and create a further five full time jobs in the pack-house and dispatch facility at Offenham.


Min till drills and precision kit in Northamptonshire

Three NFU members in Northamptonshire are applying to their LEADER area for funding towards min till drills and precision farming equipment under agriculture productivity priority one theme.

The outputs that need to be met include reductions in ammonia and sulphur emissions, use of new techniq2ues and products, reduced fertiliser and improved soil structure, (particularly pertinent as much of Northants is a catchment farming sensitive area) which help to make the farm business more sustainable. These farmers have been invited to put a full application bif for 40% funding.  

Last edited on: 10:08:2017

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  • Posted by: A P BloorPosted on: 03/08/2017 09:48:26

    Comment: Pity broadband assistance is not going direct to producer as current government body refusing to accept we have very poor reception

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