A Northumberland grain plant is celebrating a bumper harvest with a difference following the approval of funds which has helped secure an agreement with a major national maltster.
Left to right – Chair of North East Grains Ian Craigs, English Food and Farming Partnerships Regional Manager Doug Gray, One North East’s Jim Anderson and Neil Carr of North East Grains.
North East Grains Storage Limited, in Longhirst, near Morpeth, has secured nearly £750,000 worth of funding from One North East via the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) with the assistance of the English Food and Farming Partnership (EFFP). This will allow the company to invest in a new 20,000 tonne grain store and 60 tonne per hour dryer which will vastly improve its productivity and the services it offers to its members.
North East Grains currently handles, conditions, processes and stores grain for its 70 farmer members. The new investment at its Longhirst site will allow the company to enter into a long term agreement with major national maltster, Simpsons Malt Ltd, for the processing and storage of malting barley. The investment will also create two new full time jobs.
It is the third project that One North East has funded for grain co-operatives in the past few months following approval of funds for Tynegrain in South Shields and Coastal Grains in Belford - part of a strategic approach to help farmers across the region access more efficient and effective processing, bringing added value and access to new markets.
As a result of the new funding, by the 2010 harvest North East Grains will be able to process and store 50,000 tonnes of grain per year for their members. This means individual farmers do not need sophisticated drying and storage equipment on farm and can be confident that in the event of another wet harvest like 2008, their grain will be dried and stored as quickly as possible. In addition, quality and value will be optimised as the new facilities will allow more efficient segregation of grain.
Neil Carr, Managing Director at North East Grains, said: "We have made numerous changes over the years to improve our business but we identified a need to invest further following on from the 2008 harvest – now labelled as the wettest in recent memory – where we saw 47,000 wet tonnes of grain handled and dried in very difficult conditions with much deterioration of crop quality.
“Simpsons Malt Ltd is a strategic partner and this long term agreement will allow our members to benefit from growing malting barley which can be significantly more profitable than feed barley and wheat. As a result of this funding we can ensure that the crop will be dried and stored correctly with an assured market for the grain. Our expansion will open up opportunities for more farmers to invest in North East Grain’s co-operative storage facility."
EFFP is a specialist agri-food consultancy which aims to work with the whole supply chain from producer to end user for the benefit of all involved. Its Collaboration Advisory Service was essential in helping North East Grains to complete their successful funding application with One North East.
Adrian Sherwood, RDPE Manager at One North East, said: “We are keen to support businesses like North East Grains, Tynegrain and Coastal Grains as the work that they co-operatively do together has a knock-on effect to hundreds of farmers across the region creating added value and opening up new markets which they may not otherwise have had access to.
“As a direct result of this funding, North East Grains can not only improve their members’ crop quality but the subsequent agreement with Simpsons Malt means that there is a guaranteed market for those crops, helping to deliver benefits for the industry across the whole of the North East.”
North East Grains Storage Ltd is a farmer owned co-operative grain storage and marketing business which has developed over the last 21 years. It is a progressive company which offers high levels of customer care, training and development for its members. Increasingly the food industry wishes to buy from central storage businesses that can meet exacting quality standards and ensure continuity of supply.
The Rural Development Programme for England 2007-2013 is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, with the aim of delivering targeted support to rural businesses and communities. It is managed in North East England by One North East, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.
The RDPE investment combines larger projects to help many businesses in different sectors of the rural economy - including bioenergy and land-based skills, and projects adding value to agricultural and forestry products - with smaller investments to help individual businesses to start-up, grow or diversify, and support to develop more sustainable rural communities.
RDPE Business Support is part of Solutions for Business, the Government’s package of publicly funded support products offering help to companies to start, grow and succeed. Solutions for Business makes it easier for businesses to get the advice and assistance that they need.
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