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Under-pressure farming families offered free business survival training

PUBLISHED: 16:21 06 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:39 06 September 2019

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme is offering free business training to struggling Norfolk farming families. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme is offering free business training to struggling Norfolk farming families. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A multi-million pound programme which equips financially-vulnerable family farms with free business skills training is coming to Norfolk for the first time.

Charlie Ennals of the Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). Picture: Henry WalkerCharlie Ennals of the Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). Picture: Henry Walker

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme is seeking 20 farming families to join the initiative in Norfolk - one of 15 locations where the scheme is running this year.

Although it was originally targeted at dairy and livestock farms, the programme has been broadened to include small arable businesses in recognition of East Anglia's agricultural mix.

A challenging few years for the agricultural sector have placed unprecedented pressures on family farms dealing with volatile prices, falling incomes and extreme weather, compounded by concerns over the future of trade, policy and funding after Brexit.

Research carried out for the fund by The Andersons Centre demonstrated that the impact has become so extreme in some cases that one in five farms were unable to pay their short-term debts, creating cashflow problems.

The training programme is aimed at helping the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach farming families to prepare for change, to make informed decisions about their future and to build more resilient businesses which can compete in a changing world.

Charlie Ennals, of Norfolk FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advice Group), which is co-ordinating the programme in Norfolk this year, said: "The workshops that are lined up are really going to make a difference to family farm businesses and I would encourage people to register their interest as soon as possible."

Support is provided through one-to-one on farm advice, as well as a series of seven group workshops delivered by professional consultants. Topics covered include benchmarking costs, business planning, succession planning and environmental management.

Claire Saunders, director of The Prince's Countryside Fund said: "The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme is continually responding to the unique challenges facing farming families.

"We are introducing the Managing Your Farmed Environment workshop this year, which will help farmers to be more informed about their own environmental assets and opportunities for delivering public goods.

"The workshop will encourage a cultural change in the way farmers think about their contribution to the environment and in the opportunities for delivering public goods."

- For further information and to register your interest visit The Prince's Countryside Fund website or contact Charlie Ennals at Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advice Group on 01603 881946 or charlie@norfolkfwag.co.uk.

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