£20m grant pot on offer for rural firms

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LATEST government grant announcements include £20m to assist work-based training for rural businesses.

Also announced is a Yorkshire meeting, on Tuesday next week, to explain two competitions for money aimed at innovation in the food business, with wide-ranging criteria.

The £20m vocational training fund is for training provided through a Defra network called the Skills & Knowledge Framework, set up to deliver training in “business management and computer skills, resource efficiency, leadership qualities, animal health and welfare”.

Defra said: “Businesses will also be able to apply for training to improve traditional rural and farming skills and new business opportunities in rural tourism.”

Details of courses will be published in the summer. Meanwhile, tenders for the provision of suitable training are invited. For more information, email rdpedeliveryyorkshire@defra.gsi.gov.uk or call 0300 0604459.

The two innovation competitions are entitled Food Processing & Manufacturing Efficiency and Innovation for Growth in Agriculture, Food & Drink.

The first is for a share in £15m on offer to bigger businesses – expected to be mainly beyond the farm gate – to invest in R&D to “increase the sustainability and competitiveness of food processing and manufacturing – focusing on efficiency and supply chain waste”.

A further £500,000 is available to small and medium-sized businesses, with grants of up to £25,000 to look into “better and more cost-effective systems and processes and the delivery of better products and services”.

The funding from Defra, Technology Strategy Board and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, will be explained at regional workshops including one in the Queen’s Hotel, Leeds, on March 27. To register, go to http://tinyurl.com/6ubu3s6/ or for more information email serena.broadway@biosciencektn.com or call Serena Broadway on 07826 505756.

n Natural England is reminding farmers in Higher Level Stewardship that there is still money in the pot from last year’s scheme for educational access funding.

It says: “Funding is to help provide items to improve visitor access to farms such as classrooms, washroom facilities and access furniture such as kissing gates. Successful applicants will also be eligible for an annual base payment and revenue payments for up to 25 educational visits per year.”

For more, see http://tinyurl.com/7nqx42k/