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Farmer Has Spring In His Step


THE Northumberland Lambman has a spring in his step following funding to help him expand his business further and strengthen the regions local food supply chain.

Jimmy Bell, a farmer at East Wingates Farm, near Longhorsley, Morpeth, has received 19,000 through One North Easts Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) to help ensure all of the lambs raised on the farm are also processed and packaged on site helping reduce food miles and ensure traceability.

Funding will help pay for a new, larger cold storage area to allow Mr Bell or the Lambman as he is locally known –  to expand the butchering side of the business and consequently sell a higher proportion of lamb produced on the farm direct to the consumer.  The aim is to increase the current level of lambs which would create 100% of annual production at Wingates.

The improvements would also create an on-farm processing facility to provide butchering services to other neighboring farmers who also wish to add value to their own quality stock.

Mr Bell said: I am thrilled to receive the backing of the RDPE programme which will allow me to increase capacity and turnover of East Wingates Lamb, and also help other farmers benefit through adding value to their own produce, while sustaining and creating further employment opportunities in the local rural area.

Traceability is a key selling point which customers appreciate, the fact that lambs are born bred at Wingates, processed and packaged at the farm and retailed directly to them is a key selling point for my business.

If I hadnt have been able to go ahead with my latest plans then I wouldnt have been able to meet the increasing demand so further added value would have been lost and a service to process and pack meat for neighbouring farmers wouldnt have been established.

Mr Bell first diversified his business in 1999 through the development of on-site farm butchery facilities within converted traditional buildings allowing him to increase the number of lambs marketed from Wingates directly to the public over the last 10 years.

Through going to farmers markets and his website, demand has increased year on year making it difficult to accommodate demand and take advantage of an identified opportunity to process and pack lamb for neighbouring farmers which could also be marketed direct to the public and help add value and sustainability to neighbouring stock in the area.

RDPE Manager at One North East, Adrian Sherwood, said: One of the many selling points of East Wingates Lamb is reduced food miles so it is important that the farm continues to diversify and grow so that all of the meat can be stored on premises while also creating a more efficient business and helping to sustain employment.

This project is exactly what the RDPE programme is all about, helping a farmer to diversify and add value to a quality product, boosting local food while also creating and safeguarding jobs in a remote rural location.

Ali Gray, Farm Business Consultant from Strutt and Parker in Morpeth, said:  This project is an excellent example of how RDPE funds can be put to good use; in this case for a farmer who has initially diversified in the past and subsequently expanded and developed the butchery business while the funds can also be a vital tool in establishing new diversified business start-ups.

Northumberland County Council programme manage and distribute the RDPE funding on behalf of One North East. Cllr Jim Smith, Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration & Development, said: This is another successful example of how our farmers in Northumberland continue to diversify and sustain rural businesses, whilst improving efficiency and accessibility to high quality local produce.

East Wingates was one of the first farms in the North East to join Natural England DEFRAs Countryside Stewardship Scheme, meaning commitment to conserving the countryside, its wildlife and historic features while offering the public the opportunity to access farmland.  To find out more about the product visit

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 being managed by One North East 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 Governments package of publicly funded support products offering help to companies to start, grow and succeed. Solutions for Business makes it easier for companies to get the advice and assistance that they need.

For further information on the full package of support, visit call Tel: 0845 600 9006.
For more information on RDPE in North East England, visit:
For more information on RDPE, visit:

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