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£1.5m Prince's Farm Resilience Programme launched in East Anglia

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant

A £1.5m programme has been launched to offer valuable support and one-to-one guidance to farm businesses across the East of England.

More than 200 representatives from agricultural associations, businesses, local authorities, education, charities, voluntary and community organisations attended a special rural summit in Suffolk to mark the regional launch of the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme.

The event at Trinity Park in Ipswich, was held in response to the Hidden Needs report, published by the Suffolk Community Foundation, which shows evidence that rural areas have been particularly affected as levels of deprivation in Suffolk have continued to rise since 2010.

The five-year Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme aims to help tackle some of the challenges identified in the report by targeting help to small farm businesses in East Anglia, including giving them the tools to evaluate their viability and long-term sustainability.

Mark Pendlington, trustee of the Prince’s Countryside Fund and chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said the scheme could play an important role in supporting the East’s food, farming and agriculture sector, worth £10bn a year and employing 120,000 people.

He said: “The East is the headquarters of the UK food and farming industry and to survive and thrive here, small farming and agricultural businesses, and the families that run them, often need access to expert help, advice and support. This is just what the Prince’s Countryside Fund provides and the UK-wide Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme targets the East as part of a wider initiative to tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by our precious rural communities.

“Also on the summit agenda was access to better broadband and Wi-Fi; improved training and skills to keep young people in the rural economy; affordable housing to help secure sustainable communities and better transport to tackle rural isolation.”

A Rural Strategy for the East is expected to be published early in the New Year, including a detailed, timed action plan to address the issues identified at the summit.

Are you involved in a project to boost the rural economy? Contact chris.hill@archant.co.uk.

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