Small farm businesses across Gloucestershire are being invited to take part in the second year of The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, run by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) is offering the course in Cirencester, to help support small family farm businesses to improve their confidence, efficiency, and resilience.
The programme will provide free business support, skills and planning tuition, and one-to-one guidance to 20 small livestock and mixed family farm businesses across the county.
As part of the programme, farmers will be given the skills to evaluate their viability and make informed decisions about the future by using the Business Health Check Tool.
It aims to tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by small farm businesses across the UK.
An added bonus of the programme is that it brings together like-minded small to medium sized family farm enterprises in local networks, to help them review their current activity, and identify opportunities and improvements that can be made on-farm to build resilience and to help sustain a diverse farming sector in the UK.
Developed off the back of The Prince’s Dairy Initiative, which has helped strengthen the UK dairy supply chain since 2012, the £1.5million programme will support up to 300 farm businesses this year.
Feedback from participating farms has been unanimously positive, with farmers who have completed the programme feeling significantly more optimistic about the future of their farm business.
Claire Saunders, director of the Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We are thrilled to be bringing The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme to more locations this year, building on the excellent response to its first year.
"The skills training and expert advice provided by the programme help farmers to cope with the many challenges that their businesses face, and allow them to plan for the future more confidently.”
Research commissioned by the Fund and carried out by the University of Exeter into the future of the small family farm in the UK revealed a steep decline in numbers since the beginning of the century, and declining farmgate prices has led to the average farm income falling below £20,000 for the first time since 2007.
With uncertainty caused by Brexit adding extra pressure to farmers, the Programme is more important now than ever.
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