What financial help is out there at present to help grow your rural farming business?”

17th February 2017

One of the most common questions I’m asked as a professional by farming businesses is “what should we be looking at going forward to expand and grow my business”. Albeit cost of borrowing is low at present, venturing out into a new business with full exposure on often large capital costs is daunting and stressful, but we have now seen grant funding being released and I urge you to take advantage whilst it is there.

For those with a plan and an idea, the recent release of the RDPE Growth Programme and LEADER for most places in Yorkshire is welcomed and should be looked at. The latest RDPE programme is aimed at those businesses with sub 50 employees that crucially want to create jobs and grow a business idea/expansion in the rural area. It is targeted at rural businesses with a minimum capital spend of £35k and those looking to open up new markets, increased processing, use new technology to grow turnover and crucially increase profitability. The key areas are business development, food processing and rural tourism infrastructure. It’s a new grant just recently opened and the money is guaranteed by government, despite Brexit. The grant is administered through the local LEP’s and it’s a two stage process; an initial expression of interest followed by the full application.

There are also small local regional grants for helping fund business expansion/restructuring/web design etc., often which come and go, but worth considering if you’re looking at change and growth.

You may also have seen some recent press on the Hedgerow and Boundary Grant Scheme, which is only open until 28th April and will provide funds of between £1,000 to £5,000 to farmers and landowners for boundary restoration, so covering such things as hedge planting/restoration and stone walling. It may not seem a lot or get many meters covered, but every little helps and, particularly those with a lot of stone walls, it will help with maintaining the stock proof boundary and increasing the biodiversity and amenity value of your land.

Our expert Energy team also recently exhibited at the Energy Expo event in Telford. There was a good turnout of rural businesses, and despite what you read in the press, there are still incentives available for those looking at producing heat in particular. The recent consultation has highlighted that there is a massive demand for production of heat on site and so the tariffs are looking like they will increase particularly for commercial biomass, biogas and CHP technologies. They are really aimed at those that have a high heat demand and not really at electric generation but for those, say, heating intensive livestock buildings, drying all year round, glasshouses, office units and large warehouses, we would urge to re-consider looking at the available systems once again, as we believe there will be the ability to generate your own heat and be independent of perceived fuel price rises whilst at the same time saving money on energy bills and making the business more profitable.

For more information contact Louis Fell on 07966 924345 or email louisfell@georgefwhite.co.uk

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