Rural Support Launches The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme

Farming in Northern Ireland is not just a job but a way of life. It forms the backbone of our community with approximately 25,000 farms spread across the country; making it one of the most important industries within Northern Ireland. Rural communities here are also extremely close knit and farmers and farming families, sit at the heart of these communities.

Rural Support is an organisation committed to helping build resilience in the farming community and supporting their way of life. They are currently launching The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, which is run by The Prince’s Countryside Fund. Registration is now open and will close on 31st October 2020 or earlier if all allocated spaces have been filled. This year’s programme will be held in Ballymena, Co Antrim, and will be a pilot group focusing on younger farmers; whereby each farm business must have a young person, under the age of 35, involved on farm, to be eligible to participate.

Gillian Reid, Farm Business Support Service Coordinator said, “This programme is currently within its 5th year and helps to secure a viable and resilient future for farm businesses, by equipping them with the information and confidence to help them survive, and more importantly to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

This year we decided to introduce a young farmers’ group as our recent farm business survey suggested that young people are concerned about their future on the farm; both financially and technically, particularly with so much uncertainty over things outside of their control such as Brexit and volatility in markets. This programme will help them to develop their skills and gain a better understanding about their future farm business decisions under the guidance of expert consultants and with the support of the Rural Support Farm Business Mentor Team. Spaces are limited to 20 farming families so I would urge anyone interested to contact us as soon as possible to have a chat and register for the programme.”

Participants will receive free business skills and environmental management training worth £2000 per farm, delivered by expert consultants including Kite, the Andersons Centre, and Savills. The training will help farming families to make changes to improve their business and ensure their viability.

The Programme is aimed at dairy, beef and sheep farmers who are looking at ways to improve their business and create efficiencies. Furthermore, the programme will include support to look at the financial performance of the participants enterprise through the use of a specially designed ‘business health check tool’.  By completing the tool, it will help identify the strengths and weaknesses of their farm business. Then through a series of workshops they will be able to compare their business with others and identify ways in which they can improve their performance and create a stronger, more resilient farm business.

Derek, a farmer who took part in 2019-20, commented, “The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme allows farmers to be open and honest with others. It’s a great way for people to come together, to put your head above the parapet and own how well your business is doing, to talk things through with others in a similar situation and with the expertise of the consultants.

I would, without a shadow of a doubt, recommend this Programme. It shows you how you can progress the business to do what it is supposed to do, to support yourself and your family, provide a good quality of life, and prepare for retirement. Farming is what we want to do in life, so it’s important to be doing it the best we can, and make the best use of our time and resources”

For information on this programme or to register your farm business, please contact Rural Supports Farm Business Support Unit by telephoning 028 8678 0040 or email farmsupport@ruralsupport.org.uk. Spaces are limited so registration is essential.

We’re Hiring!


Follow the link below to find out more information and how to apply to 3 new exciting positions at Rural Support. Closing date for all 3 positions is Monday 15th June 2020.

All 3 positions are based at Loughry College, Cookstown.

⭐️Administrative Officer – Full Time
⭐️Social Farming Support Officer – Part Time
⭐️Book-Keeper – Part Time

Click here for more information and how to apply!

Community Support in Your Area

If you need some support in your local area with prescriptions and food collections etc, please see the list below of a community group in your area of who can help. We must all stay strong during these difficult times and help those who are in need. For more community groups in Tyrone & Fermanagh please see here   #strongertogether

Remember id you need someone to talk to we can offer emotional support to farmers and their families during this difficult time through our helpline 0800 138 1678. You will speak to someone with an understanding of the pressures of farming who is there to listen and provide you with further information as well as help you to get through to the most appropriate support agencies.

Also the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has produced a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to support farmers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The content contains relevant information on the most common queries that the UFU have received from members relating to the illness and its impact on the agri-food industry. There is a section dedicated to each commodity/sector and the document will be updated regularly.



Farm Family Key Skills – Latest Venues

Rural Support continues to provide Free and Relevant Services to Farmers and Farm Families across Northern Ireland.

Its latest offering includes a series of workshops focusing on coping with the pressures of farming. These are being delivered at various locations across the region as part of the CAFRE Farming Family Key Skills Programme.

Rural Support’s mission is to provide practical and professional support to farmers, farm families and farm businesses. This free training provides real-world guidance and support with the specific aim of helping participants identify stress points, both in themselves and others, and learn how to deal with them. The training focuses on how to recognise the symptoms of excessive stress, exploring ways to build resilience and develop strong mental fitness. You will also find out how to access specialist support when it is needed. Participants also learn how to support friends and neighbours who may also be experiencing challenges.

A previous participant of the programme recently said, “Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, very well delivered with a lot of personal touches from the facilitators – keep up the good work.”

The workshops are delivered by two Rural Support facilitators, who also regularly work with farmers and farm families on a variety of issues, bring a wealth of experience and understanding of the challenges, as well as expertise to help overcome those challenges.

Upcoming dates and locations of the workshops include:

  • Monday 9th March, Wark Hall, Belleek at 7.30pm
  • Tuesday 10th March, Wildfowler Inn, Greyabbey at 7.30pm
  • Monday 16th March, Minterburn Presbyterian Church, Aughnacloy at 7.30pm
  • Monday 23rd March, The Courthouse, Kesh at 7.30pm

Workshops are open to both men and women as well as young people over the age of 16 years old. If you would like to take part or would like more information please register with Rural Support by phoning 028 8676 0040 or email info@ruralsupport.org.uk. This programme is funded under the EU Rural Development Programme therefore registration is recommended to secure your space.

Social Farming showcased at NICS Live 2019 events

Social Farming was recently showcased by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) at the           Northern Ireland Civil Service Live 2019 events – a great             opportunity to demonstrate how partnership working makes        Social Farming happen. Thanks to all at Annagh Social Farm for hosting!

Click below to watch the video:


Save the Date of a Business Planning Seminar

A number of seminars focusing on areas impacting on farm businesses have been organised by CAFRE in partnership with Rural Support to be delivered throughout Northern Ireland over the coming months starting on 28 November at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE. Seminars will be delivered by industry professionals from local Accountancy and Law firms.

For further information contact Rural Support on 028 8676 0040 or visit www.cafre.ac.uk.