£200m farm productivity and broadband boost for rural England

Funding available to help rural businesses expand and access superfast broadband

Story Highlights

  • Rural Development Programme expected to generate 6,750 new jobs
  • £30m to improve rural broadband
  • £45m to help rural businesses grow and invest in new equipment
  • £120m for projects that improve farm productivity
  • A further £6.6m will be available for animal health and welfare projects.
A £200million fund for rural businesses that will generate thousands of jobs and provide new support to expand and improve their premises has been announced.

Making the announcement during a visit to the Suffolk Cookhouse project, Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner confirmed that for the first time under the current scheme, specific funding will be available to support new rural broadband projects, and provide significant amounts of funding to on-farm businesses to invest in new infrastructure, buildings and machinery.

The grants will also fund landowners to improve farm productivity and invest in rural tourism opportunities.

Prosperous economy

Lord Gardiner said: “One in three businesses in this country are based in the countryside, and this government is committed to providing the support they need to create a strong and prosperous rural economy.

“This funding will make sure businesses in remote locations can get online, help farmers install cutting-edge technology, create new tourist hotspots and bring high quality jobs to rural communities across the country.”

CLA Senior Rural Business Advisor Dr Charles Trotman said: “These grants are the right thing at the right time. With Brexit around the corner, businesses need to be thinking about ways to make investments that will help them to harness opportunities in a changing market.

“For some, especially in farming, upgrading equipment and processes to drive efficiency, reduce costs and increase standards will be the key. For others, the opportunity to diversify and add new income to the business will be vital.

“Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task” Dr Charles Trotman

On the broadband fund Dr Trotman commented: “Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task. Targeted support will help with this but the key is to mobilise communities which could benefit from this to work together to enable the best possible connections”.

The first grant funding that will become available will be for reservoirs and forestry equipment and these are expected to be open for applications from Monday, while funding for broadband, rural business support, on-farm food processing, arable and horticultural productivity and resource efficiency will be made available later in the year.

All projects agreed before we leave the EU will be guaranteed for their lifetime – providing stability and certainty while future support for farmers and rural communities is developed.

Farmland Magazine

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