Free business support and one-to-one guidance packages will be available to small family farms suffering in the face of falling farm-gate prices under a new scheme launched by the Prince of Wales’ Countryside Fund.
Up to 300 of these rural businesses will benefit under the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme which will open for business in September this year in up to 15 regions across the UK.
The project follows recent research carried out by The Andersons Centre which highlighted that the problems affecting farms and their ability to survive economically had become so extreme that almost one in five small farms were unable to pay their short term debts in a year when average farm incomes fell below the £20,000 mark.
Launching the project yesterday, the Prince of Wales, Duke of Rothesay, said that family farms were at the heart of the British countryside and their health was vital for the future of the nation’s rural communities.
The vast majority of these businesses were sole traders or family partnerships which the trust said gave them both a unique strength and a “profound vulnerability”.
Building on the success of The Prince’s Dairy Initiative, now in its fourth year, the organisers said that the programme would help to secure a viable and resilient future for farm businesses, by equipping them with the information and confidence to help them survive, and importantly to make the right choices for themselves and their families.