Awards of £11.5 million for farming businesses

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THE Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR) has awarded over £11.5 million to local farming businesses, organisations and communities.

And they have now opened the Measure 3.1 Farm Diversification until Thursday. March 28, 2013.

The aim of Measure 3.1 is to provide support for farmers and members of their families to diversify into non-agricultural activities, increasing the sustainability of the farm business, generate additional income and create additional employment.

Led by Craigavon Borough Council, Armagh City and District Council and Newry and Mourne Council, SOAR delivers funding from the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to projects relating to farm diversification. The funding helps to grow rural businesses, encourage tourism and develop new rural community services.

“SOAR delivers grant aid on behalf of the Rural Development Programme throughout rural communities. There are offices in Craigavon Borough Council, Armagh City and District Council and Newry and Mourne District Council areas to make it easy to meet with our staff to discuss project ideas and talk through what the process will involve,” said Councillor Sean O’Hare, Chairman of the JCC.

Sintons and DC Contracts are two recent examples of projects that have successfully secured funding under Measure 3.1.

Lorna Dillon applied to SOAR for funding to convert a derelict farm site on the corner of Main Street and Station Road, Scarva, into an 80 seater licensed restaurant with a conference facility.

The completed restaurant now offers casual dining from lunch through to dinner with an outdoor area overlooking the canal. The interior is reflective of village life portraying stylish and comfortable country living whilst at the same time offering modern standards of dining.

DC Contracts received funding under Measure 3.1 to develop a waste management and recycling facility.

Daniel Connolly secured funding for the design, building and installation of a washing and segregation plant to regenerate recycled aggregate from waste. His facility now offers a range of recycling services with the main activity being the recycling of gully waste.

A total of 75 farm diversification projects have been awarded funding to date and almost £2 million has been committed under this measure.

Anyone interested in receiving an information pack should contact the SOAR central office on 028 3831 2573, visit the website www.soarni.org for more information or follow them on Facebook.