Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme launch

THE Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in the East Midlands has welcomed a new initiative to help the region’s farmers, foresters, contractors and horticulturalists.

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS), which was given the green light this week, is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and has been developed to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses to become more efficient at using resources.

The project aims to help make rural businesses more profitable and resilient whilst reducing the impact of farming on the environment.

There is £20m available under FFIS until December 2013. The grants are for capital items and the grant rate available is up to 40 percent in non upland areas, and up to 50 percent in upland areas.

The maximum grant allowable per project is £25,000 and the minimum is £2,500.

CLA East Midlands director Andrew Shirley, who is based at the Association’s regional HQ near Corby in Northamptonshire, said: “This initiative is a significant boost for countryside-based businesses. Hopefully it will be the shot-in-the-arm that the region’s rural economy needs.”

Applicants are urged to email rdpedeliveryeastmidlands@defra.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 0300 060 2526 for more details.

The first round of the scheme is open from November 16 until January 17.