Free business skills training for farming families in Cumbria

Farming families in South Cumbria, around Kendal and Ulverston, and in the Alston area of North East Cumbria are being given the chance to participate in a free innovative programme of one to one support and business workshops by joining the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme.

The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in July 2016 and over a five-year period will support up to 1,300 farm businesses. Each year only 15 areas are selected to host a group in the UK and this year Cumbria have been asked to host two groups for up to 20 farms each. The group’s are being managed by The Farmer Network who are currently recruiting participants.

“The programme will bring together like-minded family enterprises in a local network where they can review their current activity and identify improvements and opportunities,” says Ruth Kendal, Project Manager at the Farmer Network. “The series of workshops and support will give farming families the tools to evaluate their viability and long-term sustainability and enable them to make informed business decisions on their future direction.”

Each member of the group will be able to complete a Business Health Check Tool, with the help of an advisor, which will look at their strengths and weaknesses and benchmark costs against similar farms. There will then be a series of workshops which focus on different business skills to maximise profitability and resilience. Topics include business planning, understanding accounts and budgeting and exploring new opportunities in farming.

Mark Curr and his family, Bowderdale Farm, took part in the Kirkby Stephen group in 2019 and felt that they and other families gained a significant amount by joining. “The workshops made you think and look at aspects of the business as a family. All of us attending the meetings and then talking about things afterwards helped us to take it all in and get the most out of the programme. We already do the Newcastle University figures – benchmarking with other farmers, but the chance to discuss things with forward-thinking farmers from our area was a real opportunity that we have not had before. The mix of well-established farmers looking at their next steps and young couples just starting out with enthusiasm and new ideas worked well, it would be good to continue the benchmarking and discussions. I would recommend the programme to other farmers.”

Spaces on this group are limited. If you wish to join the group or want to hear more, please contact The Farmer Network on 01768869615.