�20m fund to help rural businesses

A �20m fund to help rural businesses increase profits and reduce their impact on the environment has been launched by farming minister Jim Paice.

Farmers, foresters and horticulturalists can apply for grants of up to �25,000 to invest in green projects and machinery to expand businesses.

The farming and forestry improvement scheme can fund projects to save energy and reduce carbon emissions, reduce dependence on artificial fertilisers, improve soil quality, save and recycle water; and promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently.

Mr Paice said: “Growing our economy goes hand-in-hand with protecting and improving our environment. We want rural businesses to thrive and this new fund will help farmers, foresters and horticulturists to boost their profits and use greener and more efficient ways of working.”

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme is part of Defra’s Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Funds will be allocated between now and December 2013. Grants will cover at most 40% of the total project cost in lowland areas.

Under the scheme, grants of between �2,500 and �25,000 may be made.

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Details from the local Rural Development Programme for England delivery team or call 0117 372 3634.