AN award-winning meat producer is to expand his business with the help of funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Stephen Knox, who farms at Patrick Brompton, North Yorkshire, produces a range of meat products that are sold under the Yorkshire Dales Beef brand.

Now, with the help of Defra grants, he has a new cutting and packaging plant at his farm.

The grants have helped fund the construction of the building and its equipment, as well as purchasing a specialist refrigerated delivery van.

Mr Knox's products are sold through local farm shops, direct to the public at farmers' markets and in local restaurants.

The equipment will enable him to expand this business, allowing independent retailers and private and public caterers the opportunity to offer their customers fully-traceable, locally-produced meat.

Mr Knox said: "This new facility enables us to tailor our meat to our customers' needs, using our experience of working with retailers, restaurants and supplying local authorities."

Rural development service advisor Rebecca Clarkson said: "Yorkshire Dales Beef has come a long way in four years.

"Stephen has put a lot of thought into how he wants his business to develop, marketing a product with full traceability and added value, which is exactly what today's customers are demanding.

"The facility provides opportunities for retailers and restaurateurs in this region to increase the variety of Yorkshire produce they offer and will eventually boost local employment."