Over £22m Farming Connect support for Welsh farmers
A new £22.9m Farming Connect programme will be available for farmers in Wales over the next two years to support them as they prepare to move to the new Sustainable Farming Scheme, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths announced today.
Farming Connect offers business support, improves resilience, provides access to the latest innovations and helps develop farm businesses. It plays a key role in helping farms reach net zero carbon emissions through advice and support.
Since its launch in 2015 the current Farming Connect programme has supported over 26,500 individuals, including 12,615 businesses.
The new programme will run for two years until March 2025 and will focus on preparing farmers to transition to the new Sustainable Farming Scheme.
The over-arching themes for the new programme will be sustainability, improved environmental performance and greater global competitiveness.
The Minister made the announcement on a farm which has benefited from Farming Connect. Will and Sarah Evans at Lower Eyton Farm, Wrexham have diversified their farm business with support from Farming Connect and now supply fresh, organically grown, and seasonal vegetable boxes straight to a customer’s home. Watery Lane Produce includes products from local suppliers and the farm.
The Minister said: “The new Farming Connect programme I am announcing today will support farmers in Wales at a key time. The new Sustainable Farming Scheme will begin in 2025, and Farming Connect will provide the support farmers need to prepare for the new scheme.
“Farming Connect is valued by the industry and I know its services will be crucial in the next two years as we prepare the way for the SFS. It will provide advice on how farming businesses can adapt and remain competitive.
“For the first time it will include a horticultural programme providing sector specific support for all rural growers, and a new ‘sheep genetics’ programme has been developed for sheep farmers.
“I know this is a challenging time for the industry, and the programme will provide valuable support as we move towards the SFS."
Sarah Evans from Lower Eyton Farm said: “We have been very fortunate of the support we have received from Farming Connect so far. It all started with a digital workshop before moving onto becoming a member of an Agrisgôp group. I have now found a job I feel passionate about, I’m doing my bit for the environment and climate change, and I’m also educating my four children on all these important issues.”
Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes which alongside Lantra Wales, has delivered the Farming Connect programme since 2015, said: “Farmers throughout Wales can expect a seamless transition as Farming Connect not only builds on its achievements over the last seven years of delivery but through the ongoing targeted support which will help both today’s and future generations prepare for the opportunities and challenges ahead.
"Through our skilled and experienced regional field force and teams of specialist advisers, mentors, and accredited trainers, we will be reaching out to all those working in our industry, including young or new entrants wanting to progress as well as established businesses ready to consider different ways of working.”
Kevin Thomas, director of Lantra Wales added: “Our aim is to support all businesses to increase efficiencies – including for example through benchmarking, knowledge transfer, innovation, utilising new technologies or setting up diversified ventures – enabling them to lower costs and increase profitability while maintaining the highest standards of animal health and welfare and land management.”
Farming Connect can be contacted on 03456 000 813 or visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect