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The government is offering £200 million worth of grants to boost rural businesses and broadband access.

Some £30 million of this sum, which comes from the Rural Development Programme, will be put towards improving broadband connectivity.

The government hopes the grants will stimulate growth in countryside communities by providing broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or more "where this is not available or planned".

This will supplement existing government investment in rural broadband.

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said: "One in three businesses in this country are based in the countryside, and this government is committed to providing the support they need to create a strong and prosperous rural economy."

He added that this funding will ensure businesses in remote locations can get online, while farmers can install cutting-edge technology.

The government's announcement has been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which said the grants are "the right thing at the right time", given that the UK is set to leave the European Union.

Dr Charles Trotman, Senior Rural Business Advisor at the CLA, commented: "Getting superfast connections to our most remote communities is a vitally important but expensive and complex task."

He stated that while targeted support will help, the key is to "mobilise communities which could benefit from this to work together to enable the best possible connections".

This comes after the NFU urged ministers to be much more ambitious when it comes to deploying fast broadband in areas "that need it most", as only six per cent of farmers can access superfast download speeds.

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