Deadline approaches for farm-based businesses to apply for LEADER grants

Farm businesses can apply for LEADER grants to help them with harvesting-related equipment Picture:

Farm businesses can apply for LEADER grants to help them with harvesting-related equipment Picture: ANDREW MUTIMER - Credit:

Farm-based start-ups or established businesses in various parts of Suffolk and north Essex have until October 31 to benefit from a rural business grant scheme.

Businesses in Suffolk Coast, South Suffolk or North Essex in the advanced planning stages with capital projects linked to farm productivity or farm diversification are being urged to discuss their plans with the LEADER grants office at Suffolk County Council.

The last opportunity to submit an Expression of Interest application to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs/European Union is fast approaching, it warns.

LEADER aims to support a range of business types that are in eligible rural areas where its managers have identified a need for capital investments such as equipment or buildings, where planning permission is secured, that are necessary to grow their business.

Businesses applying must have fewer than 50 employees and less than £7.9m turnover a year.

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Typical grants awarded range from £10,000 to £70,000 and in terms of farm productivity or the farm diversification sector, examples of grants awarded could include:

n Crop development and harvesting – monitoring equipment to record production rates and yield via GPS

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n Robotic harvesting where the equipment can recognise when individual plants or fruits have reached their optimum and harvest them automatically

n Animal husbandry - Collar or pedometer-based heat detection systems; electronic identification (EID) readers linked to monitoring productivity; bolus reader systems monitoring animal health and welfare

n Extension of existing farm shop to provide coffee shop amenity

n New facilities and/or equipment for on-farm food processing businesses

n Equipment and fittings for new cold storage and cutting room

n New catering trailer unit to develop events and farmers’ market audiences

The deadline for Stage 2 full Applications is mid-January 2019, and any grants offered must be claimed by October 2020.

For an informal discussion about project ideas and developing plans, contact Suffolk County Council’s LEADER Team at or phone Gavin Talbot, LEADER Programme Manager, 07734 540707.

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