Finding a way into farming should no longer be an insurmountable problem for some of the new or young entrants to farming who sign up for Farming Connect’s pioneering Venture programme.
Since it was launched in 2015, 285 individuals have now expressed an interest in the programme. This figure is set to rise further as Farming Connect starts showcasing some of the successful ‘joint ventures’ already established.
Farming Connect currently has over 250 active participants at different stages of the Venture ‘matchmaking’ process, which pairs individuals wanting to scale back or exit the industry with those trying to achieve that all-important first foothold.
Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs addressed a packed audience of farmers and representatives from key stakeholder organisations at the Winter Fair. The Cabinet Secretary made it clear that there has never been a more important time for individual farm businesses and the wider industry in Wales to consider new, innovative ideas and systems to help them perform at their very best.
“Venture’s integrated package of training, mentoring, specialist advice and business support is equipping participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Welsh Government has in place a number of measures to assist new or young entrants into the industry.
“Strategically, these help drive forward the industry by introducing energy, fresh ideas and vision.
“I am actively considering opportunities to provide further targeted support to young entrants and will make an announcement on this in the New Year,” she added.
Einir Davies, mentoring and development manager with Menter a Busnes, which delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government, is leading a new campaign to ensure the 102 ‘seekers’ already registered with Venture, receive the support they need to turn their hopes into reality.
“Despite the figures for ‘providers’ or established landowners and farmers being very similar to the number of seekers, who are mainly new or young entrants to farming, we are keen to get some key messages out to the latter category in particular.
“With 23,240 acres of land now registered as being available to share within our Venture database, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that what some seekers perceive as barriers to share farming can be overcome.
“Recent research has shown that some are reluctant to move out of their area or have family ties that would make this problematical. Others are overly specific about the size of holding they feel would warrant a move.
“I believe many more are simply daunted at the prospect of change, which makes them reluctant to take the Venture process forward despite their initial expression of interest.
“A joint venture means you are likely to share the benefits but conversely, you could be sharing the risks too. What is needed is the confidence to grasp any opportunities out there and to develop their inner entrepreneurial spirit,” said Ms. Davies.
Farming Connect hopes to support many potential Venture participants through its highly successful Agri-Academy programme, which has already helped hundreds of farmers achieve both personal and business development goals.
The application window for the Agri Academy 2018 will open on 23 January, but to find out more about this and many more support services available through Farming Connect, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect or speak to your local development officer.