DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) continues to provide support to farm businesses during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Advice is still available during this time, even though the campuses are closed and face-to-face delivery has temporarily stopped. Here, Fiona Dickson, Head of the college’s Agri-Business Branch, and Paul McHenry, Head of the Beef and Sheep Branch, outline the lengthy list of what is being delivered:
Farm Business Support
All farm businesses will find helpful information on the CAFRE website business support pages. These pages provide useful links to technical information, frequently asked questions and business support tools which will help farmers make informed management decisions. www.cafre.ac.uk/covid-19/support-for-producers-growers-and-processors
CAFRE also has a dedicated YouTube channel called CAFREtv. www.youtube.com/user/CAFREtv
Over the past number of weeks we have increased the number of videos on CAFREtv. A link to this channel is also on the CAFRE website. It has a variety of videos which provide business management information that may be useful on your farm. Topics include Grassland Management, Using Dairy Margin over Concentrate, Making Quality Silage, Breeding by AI and many more.
If you cannot find the information that you need on the website, you can contact CAFRE advisers using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address or telephone the helpline number that relates to your query.
Farming 0300 200 7843
Food 0300 200 7846
Environment 0300 200 7842
Staff are available Monday to Friday 9am-5pm to deal with any queries, with a voicemail facility available outside these hours.
We have also produced a short video highlighting the help available for farmers during Covid-19, which is on our website (we will add link to video).
Business Development Groups
Every farmer who is a member of a Business Development Group (BDG) should keep in frequent contact with their CAFRE Adviser. Groups often use text, email, telephone and group messaging apps. This means that discussion and communication can continue to take place and support is still available for every member.
BDG members also receive a fortnightly newsletter by text, called BDG CHAT, and all members can avail of the information on the CAFRE website and YouTube channel.
We are exploring online delivery channels for virtual BDG group meetings and webinars and your BDG adviser will keep you updated on progress with this.
Farm Family Key Skills
CAFRE has temporarily stopped delivering courses in Responsible Use of Antibiotics, First Aid and Coping with the Pressures of Farming. A number of courses had to be cancelled and anyone who had booked on to a course will be contacted with new arrangements in due course.
These courses are mostly delivered during the autumn and winter months, and we are continually reviewing the current Covid-19 restrictions so that we can make plans to recommence training at the right time.
Farm Innovation Visits
CAFRE has had excellent feedback from over 280 farmers and growers who have taken part in 20 visits to the UK and other parts of Europe. These visits provided learning opportunities about innovations across the beef, dairy, crops and pig sectors. This best practice was shared with peer groups upon their return.
Whilst it is not possible to travel and visit other countries at the moment, CAFRE continues to plan for future visits when social distancing restrictions have been relaxed. Information on a number of the visits that have taken place to date are available on the CAFRE website.
Technology Demonstration Farms
CAFRE had recently appointed four Dairy and 14 Beef and Sheep Technology Demonstration Farms (TDFs). Technologies include Feed Efficiency, Cow Mobility, Grassland Management and Fertility. These farms are located right across Northern Ireland and provide examples of best practice and technologies that could be adopted on local farms.
The college had just started to offer visits to these farms when social distancing measures were introduced and CAFRE continues to work with the TDFs to ensure that each business is prepared and ready to start offering visits again when the time is right. In the meantime, you can read details about each farm and the technologies they demonstrate on the CAFRE website.
The BDGs, FFKS, FIV and TDF schemes are part-funded by the EU under the Rural Development Programme.