Prince Charles unveils funding for small UK farms
Small farm businesses will benefit from access to free workshops, online resources and one-to-one guidance as part of a new £1.5 million scheme launched by the Prince’s Countryside Fund during National Countryside Week.
A national steering group of industry experts has designed the workshops and other elements of the scheme, and will oversee15 sustainable local networks of farm businesses.
Announcement of the new Farm Resilience Programme comes after research findings revealed a steep decline in the number of small family farms in the country.
Price volatility affecting a range of sectors in which smaller farm operate and weakening export trade and domestic demand for animal products including lamb, milk and beef have combined to put smaller farms in jeopardy.
Research from the Andersons Centre revealed that the problems faced by small farm businesses are now so pressing that almost one in five (17%) businesses are unable to pay off their short term debts.
Last year, the average farm income fell below £20,000 for the first time since 2007. Evidence suggests that cashflow problems in farming are also affecting the liquidity of ancillary businesses and are being felt in the wider real economy.
Commenting on the launch of the programme on Thursday, Prince Charles said, "The small farms which have been such an integral part of Britain’s landscape for thousands of years are under threat.
"My Farm Resilience Programme is designed to respond to those threats by helping up to 300 hard to reach, vulnerable farm businesses. It is the most far-reaching programme ever offered by my Countryside Fund." ■