Grant schemes introduced under the first England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) (2000–2006) have been subjected to limited academic research and this paper aims to fill this gap by examining the attitudes of food entrepreneurs in two contiguous English regions to two key elements of the ERDP: the Processing and Marketing Grant (PMG) and the Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES). It does this through a qualitative analysis of data gathered from interviews with 20 ‘adopters’ and 20 ‘non-adopters’ of the two schemes in the South West and West Midlands regions of England. The analysis reveals that, despite the rural development rhetoric, neither the PMG nor the RES was particularly effective at funding enterprises beyond the farm gate; both schemes also appeared to attract what can be described as ‘serial adopters’ and to discriminate against those without experience of applying for government grants. Nevertheless, indirectly they did provide opportunities to safeguard and expand local and regional food production, processing and retailing in the two regions.
- England rural development programme
- processing and marketing grant
- rural enterprise scheme
- adopters and non-adopters
- South West and West Midlands regions of England