Last Saturday (September 8) members of staff and volunteers from Rural Support, as well as past participants of the Farm Resilience Programme, welcomed the director from the Prince’s Countryside Fund to Castlescreen Farm, Downpatrick, to celebrate the launch of this year’s programme within the Garvagh and Banbridge areas.
The launch included a barbecue and farm walk and this was an exciting opportunity for farm owners Damien and Jackie to showcase their knowledge as they completed the programme last year and took some valuable and life-changing information from it.
“Having participated in the programme last year and gained valuable information on finance and benchmarking, as well as visiting farms in Scotland to see how they do things and the changes they have made, I introduced some of the initiatives to my Dexter beef farm such as the simple idea of paddock grazing.
“This simple change has really benefited my farm and the programme was a real eye opener. It has helped me improve my farm business enterprise which has allowed me to invest in a passion of mine which is to open my own butcher and farm shop,” said Damien, co-owner of Castlescreen Farm.
The year’s programme is aimed at dairy or beef and sheep farmers in the Garvagh and Banbridge areas who are not currently practising benchmarking or engaged in a business development programme and who are looking at ways to improve their business and make efficiencies.
Support will be provided through one-to-one on-farm mentoring as well as a series of five group workshops to be delivered by professional consultants.
The workshops will focus on general business areas such as finance and business planning, making efficiencies and looking at new opportunities, as well as preparing for the future such as succession planning and change management post-Brexit.
The programme will include support to look at the financial performance of your own enterprise through the use of a specially designed ‘business health check tool’.
By completing the tool, it will help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your business. Then through a series of workshops you will be able to compare your business with others and identify ways in which you can improve your performance and create a stronger, more resilient farm business.
The Farm Resilience Programme is funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and is completely free to farmers, however, spaces are limited.