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Farmer Innovation Fund - Farming Connect offers groups of farmers up to £5,000 for innovative projects

Farming Connect is today launching a new funding scheme which will offer farmers up to £5,000 if they can come up with an innovative and practical project which will help improve production efficiencies while also protecting the environment.

The 'Farmer Innovation Fund', developed by Menter a Busnes on behalf of Farming Connect, will provide discretionary support for groups of farmers or foresters willing to work together to address specific local problems or explore opportunities to improve on-farm efficiency and profitability. A 'group' of farmers is defined as a minimum of two individuals, aged 16 years and over, from separate farm businesses which are registered with Farming Connect.

Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes explained that the aims of the initiative are to invest in new technologies and innovation to help farmers in Wales meet the challenges of global food production shortfalls, climate change and increased competition for key resources.

“Groups of two or more farmers will need to provide the land, stock and their time free of charge, but if they come up with an idea for a worthwhile project that meets our criteria and is selected by our assessment panel, in return they can expect both financial and practical support to develop their idea,” said Mrs. Williams.

The funding awarded to each selected group will vary, but it can be spent on buying in technical expertise or consultancy time, sampling or testing and any other reasonable expenses relating to the project. The money cannot be used to fund the purchase of hardware or capital items.

“Any farmers or foresters who feel they have identified a local specific problem or opportunity to improve ways of working should get in touch with Farming Connect. A member of our team will help them to submit an application before the closing date of 3 March 2014, and if selected, we will also provide support throughout the duration of the project, which must be completed by the end of 2014,” added Mrs. Williams.

The successful groups will be expected to share their final findings with the agriculture industry in a conclusive report and through other Farming Connect activities.

For guidance on eligibility, terms and conditions and to download application forms for the Farmer Innovation Fund, visit Farming Connect Alternatively contact on 07791 480541

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