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.