Farmer-owned East Anglian firm to build �1.5m grain processing unit

A �1.5m project to boost the value of locally-grown grain has been launched by the directors at Yaregrain’s Cantley store.

The farmer-owned and independent company aims to build Norfolk’s first dedicated “advanced grain processing unit” as part of the scheme to produce food-grade cereals and pulses.

It will enable the potential value of wheat, barley, peas, beans and oilseed rape to be transformed from a bulk commodity to a high-grade food product, said East Norfolk farmer and founder director Charles Bracey.

Since the company raised more than �1m in share capital to acquire the Cantley site with its existing 5,000 tonnes of bin storage last year, it had added 4,000 tonnes of capacity. The gleaming new silos were completed ready for last year’s harvest.

The directors briefed shareholders and potential investors about the company’s third phase. This will involve raising �1.5m by selling rights for 20,000 tonnes of storage and building the “advanced processing unit”, which is planned for completion by harvest 2013. Each B share, which will carry the right to store 100 tonnes of grain, will cost �7,500.

As the latest window for grant applications closes in April, the directors need commitment in order to make a formal request for grant funding, worth up to a maximum of �1m to install the APU.

East Norfolk farmer and founder director Andrew Alston, who farms at Catfield, told the 80-strong audience the APU would enhance marketing options for farmers. He noted, too, that Cambridge University’s latest authoritative farm business survey had revealed grain prices for the 2010 harvest year in East Norfolk around Acle and Great Yarmouth were among the lowest three areas in eastern England.

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The APU would increase the value of grain to food grade because it could take out split and cracked grains, colour separate and upgrade peas and beans from feed to human consumption standards.