Farmers reap the rewards of resilience programme
The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farm Resilience Programme delivers significant economic, social, and environmental benefits for farmers, an independent evaluation has found.
As the programme reaches its halfway point, a study, carried out by ADAS, showed that for every £1 invested in the programme, participating farmers saw an average return of £3, with 58% of participants recording an increase in profitability estimated at £9,800 each year. Other benefits included improved business skills (73%), increased confidence (75%) and improved succession planning (46%).
Emma Billings, a pedigree Limousin cattle breeder from near Louth, said: “We wanted to join the Farm Resilience Programme as with so many uncertainties in farming, anything that can help us generate new ideas we’re very supportive of. Every workshop of the programme has opened another door to ask, to analyse, to look at what we’re doing. We have definitely improved our confidence in the future. For my son’s future, it’s helped us realise how we’ve got to pass things on, and it’s made those awkward conversations more approachable.”
Emma added: “I was delighted that the LRSN team is running the Farm Resilience Programme in Lincolnshire. This gave me confidence to go to the meetings knowing that the information and guidance was delivered with the best interests of Lincolnshire’s family farms at heart and provided by an organisation that I knew would be here long term for us, and not just to deliver a short programme. The challenges ahead for all farmers mean we need that support for the long term, and I feel confident with LRSN by my side.”
LRSN’s Head of Charity, Amy Thomas said: “LRSN is delivering the programme to 43 farming businesses in Lincolnshire and around the country. Last autumn, we held workshops focusing on business and environmental issues, including the new Environmental Land Management Scheme that will replace the current farm payments’ scheme in 2023. We are rolling out the second stage of the programme this month with one-to-one business appraisals, voluntary workshops and visits including tours of the agri-tech work at Riseholme College and the re-wilding project at Doddington Hall.
“We are really pleased that the programme is already showing positive results for our participants. ADAS’s findings mean that the information and guidance provided so far has been beneficial, signposting farm businesses to the opportunities for change as well as clarifying the directions that they can take to ensure the future sustainability of their family farms.”
The improved profitability of participating farm businesses is particularly important after PCF research in 2017 found that only 16% of farms made a profit from their farming activity alone.
Allan Wilkinson, Chair of The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farming Advisory Group said: “This study has shown that our Farm Resilience Programme really is helping farmers prepare for the future. As a result of taking part, they feel more confident to make investments in their farm, have increased awareness of environmental issues and agri-environment schemes, and overall are seeing improvements in their productivity.
“The Farm Resilience Programme forms a key part of the PCF’s ambition to enable family farms to thrive, and by 2024 we want to have extended our reach to 10,000 family farms in the UK, giving them access to our life-changing business support, as well as helping family farms through their life cycles of succession and progression. We firmly believe that this support is vital for farm businesses during this period of transition.”
Iain Cruden from Aberdeenshire said: “I would recommend the Farm Resilience Programme to everyone, young or old, new to farming or been in the industry for years. It helps to break the mould. All of the workshops have been very informative and covered all aspects, we were able to take something away from every single one. The programme has been brilliant, and we’re so glad to have had the opportunity to take part in it.”
Speaking about the FRP in September 2020, HRH The Prince of Wales said: “The programme helps farms to prepare for change and build resilience in their programmes for the future. It puts farmers back in control of their business and builds their confidence to make the changes, which are appropriate for their unique situation.”
Read the full evaluation and find out more at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/farmresilience
Started in 2016, the Farm Resilience Programme has supported over 900 farm businesses in 55 locations across the UK to maximise their profit and understand their businesses better through one-to-one support and a series of workshops, which focus on topics including business planning, finance, and environmental management.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund would like to thank their partners for their support of this programme, including Aldi, McDonald’s UK & Ireland, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.