£120 million of funding will be made available to support farmers, grow businesses, and generate thousands of jobs in rural communities, announced Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom at the Oxford Farming Conference.
Rural and farm businesses will soon be able to apply for the next round of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme, which will help new businesses get off the ground and support existing companies to grow, develop new products and access new export markets.
Funding has already benefited dozens of businesses across England, including the Biddenden fruit handling company in Kent, which received £70,000 to install new equipment – leading to two new products and three new jobs – and Carvannel Free Range Dairy Ltd in Cornwall, which received over £80,000 to diversify their business and develop a new milk processing factory.
As well as boosting businesses and creating jobs, past RDPE projects have benefited the natural environment – with money granted to Dovecote Farm in Northants helping restore flood-plain meadows and grassland along the Nene Valley, while supporting species like otters.
Confirmation of next steps for the RDPE follows the Chancellor’s recent guarantee on supporting projects signed before we leave the EU, providing they are good value for money and are in line with domestic strategic priorities.
The £120 million fund will sit alongside recently announced funding for other RDPE projects, including woodland creation and a flood action facilitation fund. Overall the RDPE will help protect 2.5 million hectares of farmed land, create 6,750 rural jobs and contribute to planting of 11 million trees.
Speaking after the Oxford Farming Conference, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
“A quarter of England’s businesses are based in the countryside and this funding will give rural start-ups, family-run businesses and farmers looking to diversify the boost they need.
The Programme has already supported a range of projects, from installing cutting-edge equipment to restoring flood plains, and the next round will help create more jobs, sell more products and help us access new markets.”