Major expansion plan for farming cooperative

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News

A local agricultural company is busier than ever as they plan a massive expansion of their facilities after receiving a £2million grant.

Hemswell-based cooperative Woldgrain Storage Ltd has been awarded the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant towards a £5million scheme to increase the size of the store by nearly a third. The plan includes installing new handling, administrative and technical facilities.

Confirmation of the grant came through at the beginning of harvest in early July. The rules of the scheme mean that it has to be completed by the end of 2014, which leaves John Burnett and his team extremely busy as they have to deal with the peak workload of getting crops into store as well as planning a major expansion.

John needs to find new and existing members willing to commit to 10,000 tonnes of the new space over the next couple of months to ensure that matching funds will be in place for the project.

John said: “It’s going to be hard work. Nobody wants to talk about future plans in the middle of harvest, but I’m confident that the excellent value on offer and the benefits of central storage will ensure that farmers find time to buy into such a good deal.”

The added value comes from the grant, which allows the extra storage space to be offered at £117 per tonne, which is 40 percent less than construction price. With full tax relief available that could come down even more to as little as £90 per tonne. An initial payment of £40 per tonne is required with the rest paid over ten years.

John believes that the benefits over having to manage his own store, with all the problems and costs that come with it, is that the farmer can concentrate on growing the crop knowing that Woldgrain will keep it in tip top condition. He can then put his efforts into assessing his marketing options and choosing the best time to sell.

Grain is collected from the farm at 24 hours’ notice, transported at a pool price and weighed, tested and graded on intake with results online within 12 hours. After cleaning, drying and, if required, blending, it can be held in store for up to nine months then self-sold or traded as part of a pool.

Woldgrain Storage offers members low cost storage with high added value opportunities, which gives farmers the ability to increase their profits. Members become owners of a share in the whole business.

The investment will create a substantial amount of extra space and will also offer a new office and laboratory, better site access, loading and unloading areas and upgraded computer control equipment.

The project is supported by the RDPE, for which Defra is the Managing Authority, part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.