Written by 5 October 2017
Small farm businesses in East Sussex are to be invited to take part in the second year of the highly successful £1.5 million The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme, run by The Prince's Countryside Fund.
Proven to help small farms improve their way of working, 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 East Sussex. Applications open on the 1st of September, and close on the 31st of October.
Plumpton College were the first college to host and the programme and are proud to be doing this again for the second year running. Lee and Jenny, who farm in Cambridgeshire and took part in the programme last year, said:
“It was so helpful to meet and chat with other farmers, and the programme has given us useful tools to understand our business and know what we need to be thinking about for the future. We’d absolutely recommend the programme to others.”
The programme aims to tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by small farm businesses across 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.
Farmers will be given the skills to evaluate their viability and make informed decisions about the future by using the Business Health Check Tool. The programme also brings together like minded family farm enterprises in local networks so they can review their current activity, and identify opportunities and improvements that can be made on-farm to build resilience. After finishing the first year of hosting, Plumpton College plan to keep the cohort going and continue to keep in touch with those who took part in the programme.
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.
If you are interested in taking part in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, or would like to find out more, please contact Catherine Daw at Plumpton College on 07510 195674 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/farmresilience.
Since the original 400-acre College farm was bought back in 1919, Plumpton College has certainly seen a lot of changes.