Shropshire Star Farming Column by Alasdair Barne MSc MRICS

The Southern Shropshire LEADER Programme’s aim is to ensure that rural businesses thrive and improve economic wellbeing.

It has been designed to provide funding for small scale projects connected to the local rural economy, with the main aim of creating rural employment.

It’s recently been confirmed that applications for this programme have reopened. In order to submit an application, an Expression of Interest form needs to be completed and submitted by the deadline date of Friday, September 21.

Due to the ongoing timescales, projects must be contracted by March 29, 2019, and all grant funding claimed by October 2020.

Applications must be for at least £2,500 with the maximum grant funding being circa £40,000. If successful, the grant will provide up to 40 per cent of the project cost. For exceptional projects with high employment outputs, a higher grant amount would be considered, which could be up to circa £60,000.

What will LEADER fund? The programme will fund farmers, growers, foresters and other local businesses and rural community organisations in order to help create jobs, develop and grow rural businesses and support the local rural economy.

The programme has six national priorities:

Priority 1 – Support to increase farm productivity, that is, purchase of equipment and machinery to improve efficiency and productivity for animal welfare, water quality, fertiliser application and other direct inputs, along with the management of slurry and manure, plus improvement of soil nutrition.

Priority 2 – Support for micro and small businesses (non-agricultural) and farm diversification, that is, developing or starting a new rural business, such as a farm shop, the grant would cover construction costs associated with this, as well as funds for the purchase of new and second hand machinery

Priority 3 – Support for local tourism, including the development of quality accommodation, cultural and visitor attractions, town infrastructure, shops and catering services.

Priority 4 – Provision for rural services, setup and improving rural services, such as farm visits for educational purposes.

Priority 5 – Support for cultural and heritage activity for the wider rural economy and protecting cultural and heritage features.

Priority 6 – Support for increasing forestry productivity, investment in machinery and equipment to help production, extraction and processes as well as to enhance forestry potential and help develop the wood fuel supply chain.

For further information on this grant scheme, please contact one of the team at Madeleys on 01952 727007

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