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European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) or Rural Growth Programme has up to £13m funding available for projects in Norfolk and Suffolk to 2020. EAFRD supports rural business development, food processing projects, tourism initiatives, new business start-ups and other specific types of projects supporting rural business growth.

Successful projects approved so far include a new egg packaging store for a major local egg producer, a new rural wedding venue and a farm shop.  The final deadline for initial Expressions of Interest is 31 May 2018.  The funding is committed by the UK Government regardless of the Brexit timetable.

More information about the fund and how to apply is available on the website.  You can download funding handbooks that advertise a helpline number and email address for any queries.



EAFRD complements the LEADER programme with similar priorities for funding, but is generally able to support larger projects as well as some partnership projects across Norfolk and Suffolk, whereas LEADER funding is based on Local Action Group areas and priorities.

EAFRD has a two stage application process, and applications are assessed by Defra. EAFRD funding is made available on the Government's funding website in a series of targeted calls with specific deadlines and priorities. Use the 'funding source' selection tool to help find EAFRD opportunities. 

EAFRD funds projects in the following areas:

  • Business development - grants for rural businesses to grow and employ more staff, and for farms to diversify into non-agricultural areas
  • Food processing - projects which introduce new processes, increase productivity, or create new high skilled jobs
  • Tourism infrastructure - supporting new or existing tourism businesses to grow, and supporting events, festivals, signage schemes and other improvements to the tourism offer
  • Tourism cooperation - projects to promote the tourism offer, bringing together groups of businesses and/or organisations in new or improved collaborations

Funding will also be available for rural skills development, broadband, and business start-ups in due course. More information on these areas will be added as funding opportunities are scheduled.


Match funding

Each funding theme under EAFRD has separate calls for applications and different criteria.

Business development, food processing and most tourism infrastructure applications can apply for a maximum of £140,000 and up to 40% of the total project cost. Tourism infrastructure projects which generate no direct income (for example, public signage schemes) can apply for up to 100% funding, as can tourism cooperation projects.


Eligibility criteria

Each EAFRD funding strand carries different eligibility criteria, which are summarised on the introductory page of the Government's guidance website and below.



Who can apply

Business development

Micro and small businesses in a rural area, including social enterprises. Farmers wanting to diversify into non-agricultural activities

Food processing

Micro, small and medium-sized food-processing businesses processing Annex 1 products (examples include meat, milk, grain and root vegetables)

Small scale tourism infrastructure

Rural businesses and rural communities, farmers and land owners

Tourism cooperation

Businesses in a rural area. Charities, public bodies, community groups and destination organisations operating in a rural area



Most EAFRD applications do not require partners, although collaborative activity may form part of the project. However, tourism cooperation applicants must be able to demonstrate that they represent an established group of cooperating businesses or organisations.


Call dates

Current, recent or expected calls for applications are:

Business Development

Up to £1.95m available for rural businesses and for farms diversifying into non-agricultural activities. Successful projects will lead to job creation and business growth. Grants from £35,000-£140,000 are available. Match funding required.

There is a call open for business development in New Anglia with bids accepted until 28 Sept 2016.

Food Processing

Up to £1.95 million available for investment in the processing, marketing and development of agricultural products. Successful projects require at least 60% match funds, and will show how the project will create jobs and grow their business. Grants from £35,000 to £140,000 are available.

Applications under the 2015 call are currently under consideration. The next food processing call is due to open before the end of 2016, but the date has not been confirmed.

Tourism infrastructure and tourism cooperation

Up to £1.3m available for each of these priority areas.  Tourism infrastructure projects will develop the visitor economy by creating and improving visitor attractions and tourism events.  Tourism cooperation projects will develop Destination Marketing planning and delivery, and support the marketing and promotion objectives arising from Destination Marketing Plans.   

The first calls under these priorities are expected in 2016.

Future calls are expected in the following priority areas:

  • Business start-ups (£650,000 available)
  • Renewable energy (650,000 available)
  • Supply chain projects (£1.3m available)

There will also be funding available in due course for business advice schemes, skills projects and broadband infrastructure.


Additional information

EAFRD applications are assessed by a sub-committee established by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to establish whether they meet local priorities. Check the New Anglia LEP Strategic Economic Plan and European Investment Strategy to help you establish the links with your project.

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