£120 million support for rural communities
£120 million of funding will be made available to support farmers, grow businesses and generate jobs in rural communities in the next round of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Growth Programme.
According to Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, funding has already benefited dozens of businesses across England, including the Biddenden fruit handling company in Kent, which received £70,000 to install new equipment, and Carvannel Free Range Dairy in Cornwall, which received over £80,000 to diversify and develop a new milk processing factory. The latest £120 million will sit alongside recently announced funding for other RDPE projects, including woodland creation and a flood action facilitation fund.
Confirmation of next steps for the RDPE follows the Chancellor’s recent guarantee on supporting projects signed before the UK exits the EU, providing they are assessed as good value for money and are in line with domestic strategic priorities.
Separately, Ms Leadsom has announced today some of her intentions following the UK’s departure from the EU as follows:
- Scrap rules requiring farmers and rural businesses to pay for and display billboards or posters to publicise the EU contribution for grants to grow their businesses. These signs – measuring as much as 6ft x 4ft for the biggest grants – must be displayed permanently to avoid a penalty.
- Ditch the ‘three crop rule’ which sets out how many different crops farms must plant each year and free 40,000 farmers to grow the foods people want.
- Relax rules requiring complicated definitions applied across Europe to identify features in farmers’ fields for subsidy payments – such as what makes a hedge a hedge or when a puddle becomes a pond – and instead adopt a simpler approach.
- Reduce the amount of paperwork flood-hit farmers need to provide to support claims for repairs for recovery of their land, allowing them to get on with urgent building work more quickly.
- Reduce the number of government inspections on farms, by streamlining them or replacing them by better use of aerial photography.