Have you heard about the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Dairy Fund? In July 2012, the Prime Minister announced that £5m would be made available to the dairy sector under the RDPE to help dairy producers increase their competitiveness and achieve added value to boost their market returns.
The aims of the fund are outlined as follows:
- Bringing together those farmers with an interest in co-operation structures;
- Enabling individual producers to explore the practicalities of formal co-operation;
- Facilitating the formation of groups with similar objectives;
- Supporting groups to formally establish, develop or expand;
- Pilot projects for innovative systems that add value to primary dairy produce;
- Adding value projects by formal co-operation structures that will improve the profitability of its farmer members.
It is clearly stated that “The benefits of funded activity must fall to multiple English dairy farm businesses” and it is envisaged that applicants will fall into one of three categories:
a) Existing formally constituted groups/organisations;
b) An individual business (non farming or farming) acting on behalf of multiple dairy farming businesses;
c) A group of individual dairy farming businesses.
The Dairy Fund provides support for eligible projects requesting between £25,000 and circa £1 million of grant that will deliver transformational change to multiple English dairy farm businesses. The Dairy Fund will provide grant support up to a maximum of 100% of total eligible costs depending on the specific activity for which funding is requested.
I think this provides a fantastic opportunity for Free Range Dairy to secure funding for the establishment of a farmer-owned organisation and develop a market for free range milk and we will be consulting with farmer members about submitting an application.