New £22m Farming Connect programme to support Welsh farmers transition to Sustainable Farming Scheme
A new Farming Connect programme worth £22.9m has been announced by the Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths to support Welsh farmers as they prepare for the transition to the new Sustainable Farming Scheme (SFS).
The new programme will run for two years until March 2025, focusing on sustainability, improved environmental performance, and greater global competitiveness.
The current Farming Connect programme, launched in 2015, has supported over 26,500 individuals, including 12,615 businesses.
It offers business support, improves resilience, provides access to the latest innovations and helps develop farm businesses.
It also plays a crucial role in helping farms reach net zero carbon emissions through advice and support.
The new Farming Connect programme will provide support and advice for farmers to prepare for the SFS, which is set to begin in 2025.
It will be the first time that Farming Connect includes a horticultural programme providing sector-specific support for all rural growers, and a new ‘sheep genetics’ programme has been developed for sheep farmers.
The Minister made the announcement on a farm that has already 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.
The Watery Lane Produce includes products from local suppliers and the farm.
Sarah Evans from Lower Eyton Farm said, “We have been very fortunate with 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.”
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.”
The new Farming Connect programme will provide valuable support to farmers during a challenging time for the industry, as the sector prepares for the new Sustainable Farming Scheme. Farmers in Wales can contact Farming Connect on 03456 000 813 or visit their website for more information.
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