A £50,000 pot of loan funding for ‘innovative’ business ideas has been announced to encourage young farmers to "look at the wider picture, identify opportunities and diversify if necessary."

The money from the H&H Group, which will be loaned at an ‘extremely competitive’ interest rate, operates as part of a wider programme, whereby an applicant attends an informal ‘introduction to business’ course and is assigned a ‘business advisor’ to help verify whether the their idea is ‘viable’.

Kate Gascoyne, of the Farmer Network, which is running the ‘support’ element of the scheme, said: “That’s all part of the process. That’s all part of the testing and support process.

“We do all the checks, make sure that the amount of loan they take on and the repayment rate is what they can afford.”

She added it was hoped 15 people would take the business course, with up to five people eventually taking out loans of up to £10,000 each.

Richard Rankin, chief executive of the H&H Group, said: "This fund is us engaging with the next generation - we need to remain relevant in the market and get closer to what people really want.

"What we are looking to do, is to connect with the next generation of entrepreneurship and to encourage young farmers to remain in farming and to look at the wider picture, identify opportunities and diversify if necessary."

Securing funding is a multiple-stage process which will see plans submitted to a ‘business launch group’ - including representatives from the Farmer Network-H&H partnership - to assess whether a project is financially viable.

The loan is open to 18-30 year olds from rural or agricultural backgrounds who have an idea for a project or enterprise which would benefit the rural community.

Email Kate Gascoyne at kate@thefarmernetwork.co.uk for more information.