New £8 million funding available to provide boost for rural businesses

Rural businesses across the country looking to expand will be able to benefit from new funding worth over £8 million which will help unlock the huge potential for growth in the countryside, Farming Minister George Eustice announced today.

From rural events such as Latitude festival to farms shops, a range of rural businesses looking to expand and promote tourism in the region are encouraged to apply for the grants which are open today. This new funding will provide a real boost for the rural economy in communities across the country.

With farms the fastest growing tourist attraction in 2014, today’s news presents an important opportunity for dairy farmers looking to diversify their business and encourage tourism to farms across the country, as well as the potential to expand milk and cheese processing units.

Already dairy farmers in Knutsford, Cheshire, and across the country have taken advantage of the government’s rural development funding to open a new ice cream parlour and tea rooms. By using milk from their own cows, they have made their own ice cream to bring in tourists.

The new grants build on last week’s announcement by the Chancellor and the Environment Secretary on the Government’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan which will boost productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an even more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.

Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“From regional festivals to visitor farms, this new funding is set to give rural businesses a real boost by supporting projects that promote tourism, bring high-quality jobs to rural areas, and grow the local economy.

“With a further £8 million available, existing or new rural entrepreneurs have the chance to unleash their full potential and I strongly encourage businesses from across the country to apply for the new funding.”

Grants also available under the scheme can help people expand and develop new food processing facilities. Individual grants are worth upwards of £35,000 depending on the individual project and will now be offered in another 11 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. The programme is a competitive process and funding will be directly targeted at initiatives that will bring the biggest benefit for those local areas.

A further round of funding is expected in September when rural businesses in additional LEP areas will be able to apply for grants to help them support their local rural communities.