Support for local farming families

Support for local farming families

1 April 2012


THERE was a large turnout from the Mid Down area for the recent Support for Farm Families evening in Ballynahinch, hosted by the Farm Family Options Mentoring Programme.

The purpose of the event was to allow farm family members to find out about the range of support, funding and advice services available in their area.

The Mentoring Programme provides free, one to one, independent and confidential support to help farm families plan for the future of the farm family and business. There is a £250 grant available for legal or financial advice in relation to succession planning.

On the evening, farm families were able speak directly to mentors from the Farm Family Options Mentoring Programme to find out how the Programme could benefit them and to discuss a range of options relating to their own farm family and business needs, such as farm business decisions, funding and training opportunities, and ways to increase income both on farm and off farm.

Down Rural Area Partnership and Lagan Rural Partnership were available on the night to provide information on funding in relation to diversification projects under Axis 3 of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme. DARD Rural Enterprise were also on hand to provide advice to those considering diversification.

Other organisations present on the night included The Prince’s Trust who provide funding to assist, support and promote the entry of young people into farming and government agencies such as HMRC and Land and Property Services who were able to answer queries relating to tax and rates for farm businesses.

Pat Donnelly, Farm Liaison Officer who represented the Benchmarking and Focus Farm Programmes said: “The evening was a great opportunity to highlight to farm families the range of support on offer and give them a chance to see how the various support can benefit their own specific farm business.

“We were delighted with the turnout of people in Ballynahinch,” confirmed Sheelagh Blair from the Farm Family Options Mentoring Programme.

“The event was structured to allow those in attendance get direct advice from each of the organisations that was relevant to their individual needs and which allowed them to consider more fully their options for the future.

The format of the evening was extremely informal, which encouraged an excellent level of communication between the various service providers and the farm families.”

The Farm Family Options Mentoring Programme will be hosting similar events across the province in the coming months.

For further information, contact Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership on 0845 026 7539 or e mail: