DEFRA have announced that their RDPE Growth Programme will close for Expressions of Interest at midnight on 16th February 2020 so the race is now on for eligible farmers and rural businesses based in England to prepare their applications for this very attractive and flexible funding package.

Grants will be 40% and can range between £20,000 and £175,000, and up to £750,000 in the case of food processing projects. As always with schemes like this there are many factors affecting grant eligibility which will primarily depend on the size of the business, the sector and the location, and the relevant Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) priorities are also relevant. The final date is 30th September 2021 by which time all projects must be finished, paid for and complete grant claims submitted.

The programme covers three distinct areas which are business growth, food processing and tourism. The programme is focused solely on rural areas ( except for food processing ) and is open to small rural businesses, new or existing, which include farmers who want to diversify into non-agricultural activity, and some other organisations such as charities. The exception around location is food and drink businesses that process agricultural and horticultural products since they can be based in rural or urban areas to apply.

Business growth grants are to help pay for constructing or improving buildings and buying new equipment and machinery. Examples might be a small manufacturing business based in a rural area or a farmer diversifying his business through a new venture.

Food processing grants are for food and drink businesses that process agricultural and horticultural products such as meat, milk, grain and root vegetables, though excluding fisheries. Examples might be a milk processing facility or a fruit packing project. 

Tourism grants are intended to fund a wide range of projects for products and services to tourists such as retail or food and drink outlets, tourist information buildings, accommodation, and tourist attractions etc. Projects can be either be run on a commercial basis or designed to be free, and can encompass tourist attractions, accommodation, retail outlets and food and drink outlets.

Handbooks for each of the three programme areas along with the Expression of Interest can be found at Interested parties might also want to refer to their local LEP website.

Anyone needing assistance with preparing an Expression of Interest and the subsequent Full  Application is welcome to contact Simon Monaghan of Clear Target Management & Business Solutions who specialises in preparing grant applications and is contactable on 07768 611986 and