File photo dated 09/10/12 of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who appeared to rule out the prospect of a parliamentary vote on repealing the hunting ban before the Commons next year. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday December 26, 2012. Mr Paterson, a keen supporter of country sports including hunting, told the Daily Telegraph:

Norfolk-based scheme secures £1.5m of government cash to boost rural business skills

By shaun Lowthorpe Business editor
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
8.00 AM

A Norfolk-based scheme is to play a key role helping farmers develop vital new skills in marketing and sustainable land management after securing £1.5m of government cash.

The University of East Anglia will lead the training project, which has been funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and seeks to bring the right skills and knowledge to rural areas.

The Defra funding comes as part of a £20m government business training scheme, announced by environment secretary Owen Paterson.

The UEA, which is working in collaboration with Easton College, will use its share of the funding to provide as many as 6,000 people working in the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors with access to subsidised training via its Centre for Contemporary Agriculture (CCA) LandSkills programme.

And it is hoped that access to first-class training in land management, supply chain and benchmarking and marketing will help rural businesses take up new opportunities and compete on a global scale.

Prof John Turner, UEA plant scientist and CCA chairman, said: “This award from Defra is a wonderful opportunity for UEA to combine its knowledge and resources with those of training partners in CCA LandSkills, to develop and improve skills in the English agricultural food production workforce.

“We will aim in particular to improve the competitiveness of the industry in an ever-changing and increasingly challenging market.”

Announcing the funding, Mr Paterson said: “Having the right skills to run a business is crucial if budding entrepreneurs want to be successful.

“For too long the needs of rural business people have been overlooked. Those days are now over.

“Businesses in the remotest parts of the country will now have access to the best training so they can grow and help our country to compete even more in the global race.”

As well as focusing on the business side of rural industries, the CCA LandSkills programme will also raise awareness about environmental issues – to strike a sustainable balance between efficient production and looking after natural habitats, reducing the industry’s carbon footprint, and managing land responsibly for future generations.

Courses are delivered in conjunction with colleges including Easton College, Otley College in Suffolk, and Myerscough College near Preston.

shaun.lowthorpe@archant.co.uk