Free Range Dairy CowsAfter weeks of coverage in the media things have gone quiet for dairy farmers. It doesn’t mean the problem has been resolved just that other stories have moved to eclipse the current crisis.

Free Range Dairy is still getting calls from desperate farmers looking for a home for their milk. Out of these some are looking at alternatives to working with the main processors and setting up on their own. Becoming farmer, processor and selling their milk directly to a local market in the same way as some of our members.

This can be a costly business and farmers already financially stretched by falling milk sales might think selling up is the only alternative. However there is some help out there from different funding sources for farmers.

Below are a few potential funding options to explore for farmers wanting to set up as an independent business and processing facilities.

Prince Charles Countryside Trust is currently open for funding bids up to £50,000 until 8th October 2015. It is looking to provide funding for initiatives that cover these areas

Thriving Rural Communities – projects that provide innovative solutions to deliver assets and services that keep rural communities together and develop a more sustainable rural economy i.e. empowering communities to provide village services or create business hubs and employment for local people.

Rural Livelihoods – projects that focus on developing stronger, more sustainable farm and rural enterprises with the aim of halting the decline of the rural economy i.e. providing rural businesses with support and advice or supporting farmer led initiatives.

Farmers of the Future – projects that help improve skills and increase opportunities of taking up rural careers, in particular in farming, with the aim of remaining within and contributing to the rural economy i.e. training opportunities and apprenticeship schemes, inspiring and enabling new entrants to consider a career in farming.

DEFRA also has a range of grants available but as the funding parameters are quite specific, it’s best to speak to the dedicated team attached to this funding.

Growth Programme: grants for the rural economy which includes food processing.

Contact Rural Payments helpline: 03000 200 301. Email: .

Also to look at is funding available via the Rural Development Programme for England LEADER groups. These can help you find out more about funding in your area, funding priorities – including its local development strategy and how to apply for funding. You can find and download the full list with names and contact details here.

A good place to start might be to call the LEADER person for your area and tell them about the funding you’re seeking and get as much help and information out of them as possible.

Good luck!

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