Victorian breweries and other craft producers have until later this month to apply for up to $15,000 from the state government. Applications for the second round of funding in the "Small-scale and Craft Program" close on March 26.
This current round of grants is designed for projects that support businesses to modernise equipment or adopt new technologies, diversify their product range, access new markets or develop specialised skills.
The $10.2 million program has injected nearly $4.3 million into small-scale and craft producers to date, with more than 20 Victorian breweries, including Dainton, Hargreaves Hill, Future Mountain and Hop Nation, among those to have taken advantage of the grants program. Other suppliers to the sector to benefit include Ballarat-based House of Malt.
Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas visited AC Hops in Dean to launch the latest grants. The small, family-run business received funding to expand its hop yard and invest in equipment including a hot pelletiser and cool room. The owners say this has allowed them to broaden their product range and increased production volume.
“The funding has supported us in fast-tracking our plans to give craft breweries access to local farmgate hops and greatly assisted us in purchasing the specialised equipment needed to produce the best quality hops,” said owner Alistair Tippett in a media release.
The 2021 hop harvest is underway at AC Hops with Willamette and Red Earth varieties picked in February and Hersbrucker, Cascade, Chinook and new additions Centennial and Perle following through March.
Launched in 2019, the first round of the "Small-scale and Craft Program" provided grants of up to $25,000 for projects that allowed businesses to expand their operations and diversify their products. More than 130 business received funding.
A second stream of job creation and economic development grants provided $25,000 to $200,000 for significant projects that delivered economic benefits to the community and generated jobs. Sailors Grave, 3 Ravens, KAIJU! Beer and AC Hops were among those to take advantage.
“This new stream of funding will make sure even more Victorian producers can grow their business, welcome more visitors and boost local economies,” said Mary-Anne Thomas.
“We’re helping producers like AC Hops to grow their business to meet the interest from people who want to know more about where their produce comes from and want to support local makers.”
Other small-scale and craft producers to receive received grants include cultured butter manufacturers, gourmet vegetable growers, gin distillers and smoked meat producers. The grants are part of a strategy designed to boost visitation to regional towns, create jobs and encourage more Victorians to buy local.
Applications for the latest round of funding close on March 26, 2021. Find out more at agriculture.vic.gov.au.
Photo: Victorian Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas (left) with AC Hops owners Al and Cass Tippett.