After an 18-month absence, the Rural Development Fund for England has re-launched the Growth Programme, offering grant aid towards business development, food processing or rural tourism infrastructure projects.

The scheme offers the opportunity for businesses (existing and new) to undertake a new project, with the benefit of a significant contribution of grant funding. The scheme requires a minimum grant of £20,000, which in most cases must represent 40% of the expenditure, requiring applicants to put forward funding alongside. The scheme offers a great amount of scope to those big projects with funding of up to £750,000 on offer.

In addition, the programme allows much greater flexibility than other funding schemes, enabling applicants to tailor a bespoke grant proposal to match their business needs and ambitions. Past projects under the scheme have included a variety of farm diversification's, such as on-site meat or dairy processing, the investment in developing tourist attractions or services, as well as establishment of a non-agricultural business venture, such as manufacturing.

Agricultural Surveyor, Jamie Batt MRICS FAAV of Greenslade Taylor Hunt said: “At this time of huge uncertainty, the Growth Programme offers a great opportunity to rural businesses to look at new income streams and potentially enables those farm diversification's that are in the back of people’s minds.

 “Despite the doubt and insecurity around the future of rural incomes, this funding has been underwritten by the UK Government providing an applicant is signed up before the end of 2020.”

Time is of the essence, though, as applicants must submit an initial Expression of Interest application by 16th February 2020. Applications must be carefully designed in order to fully portray the business’ vision and importantly meet the objectives set out by the Local Enterprise Partnership.

If you would like to know more about the Growth Programme and how it could benefit your business, please contact your local GTH Agricultural Professional: For Somerset & Dorset – Jamie Batt 01935 415300 / 07766 301468 or for Devon & Cornwall – James Wotton 01404 46222 / 07899 955935.