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Free Business Support for Orkney Farmers

Farmers in Orkney will have the opportunity of free business support via the RCF’s (Royal Countryside Fund) flagship 2023/24 Farm Resilience Programme which gets underway this autumn. There will also be support available to farmers in North Ayrshire and West Aberdeenshire.

The Royal Countryside Fund (RCF), (formerly The Prince’s Countryside Fund) will again be working in partnership with RSABI to deliver the series of workshops providing free business training skills, and one-to-one support to farming families in Scotland. 

As part of the partnership agreement, the RCF is awarding a £15,000 grant to RSABI to assist the work the charity does to support people in Scottish agriculture.

Livestock producers in the three areas can apply now to take part in the programme which is open to dairy and livestock family farm businesses and crofters and takes a whole-farm and whole-family approach. 

Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Royal Countryside Fund, said:

“The RCF was delighted to be working in partnership with RSABI on delivering the Farm Resilience Programme in Scotland in 2023/24. 

“We are very much looking forward to this year’s programme getting underway.

 “The workshops cover areas such as benchmarking and improving on-farm efficiencies to reduce costs, as well as succession planning, integrating environmental management and business planning. The programme has shown to increase the confidence of farming families in their decision-making which enables their farm enterprises to become more adaptable and helps build their resilience to change.” 

Since 2016 the Farm Resilience Programme has supported around 1,400 farming families to improve their business performance and make real changes on farm.

A recent independent evaluation of the programme found it delivers significant economic, social, and environmental benefits for farmers, with 58% of farmers reporting increased profitability and 73% improving their business skills. 

Doug Bell, who is working with RSABI to manage the programme in Scotland, said the Farm Resilience Programme represents a fantastic opportunity for farming families.

A picture of Farmer Doug Bell on his quad bike holding his two small dogs

“Those who take part will gain insight into their own businesses and benefit from a wide range of expert consultants, brought in to deliver the workshops. The value of the programme was again emphasised by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from last years’ participants”.

Coordinators are currently being sought for the three designated areas for the programme, which will shortly be open for applications before the workshops take place during autumn, winter and early spring. 

Anyone interested in finding out more about the coordinator roles for each of the three new programme areas in Scotland – North Ayrshire, West Aberdeenshire and Orkney – should contact Doug Bell via crofthill@outlook.com or on 07803 222376. 

Carol McLaren, Chief Executive of RSABI, said the charity was looking forward to working with the RCF again this year, following the successful delivery of the programme in Ullapool, Stranraer and Caithness over the past year. 

“With agriculture facing particular challenges at the moment and a time of change ahead, this free-of-charge programme offers farming families a very valuable opportunity to really focus on their businesses and identify where savings can be made and profitability improved. A wider benefit is that the programme pulls farmers together to share experiences and suggestions.” 

You can find further information and sign up to the programme on The Royal Countryside Fund’s website: www.royalcountrysidefund.org.uk.

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