NEW funding has been found for an initiative which helps young people get into farming in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.

The Business Support for Young People programme was launched in 2011 to encourage young people struggling to find a way into an agricultural career, with backing from the The Prince’s Countryside Fund and The Prince’s Trust.

It supported more 100 young people with a package that included a three-day basic business course, one-to-one business advice, access to grants, low-rate business loans and up to two years support from mentors. The success of the programme and pledges from past participants to mentor future farmers has created a legacy of support and inspiration for farmers of the future.

This has enabled The Farmer Network, and independent, not-for-profit group which operates across Cumbria and parts of North Yorkshire, to attract new funding to run a similar programme in 2020.

The new Farming Ambitions programme is jointly funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund, Cumbria Community Foundation and the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust.

It is available to young people aged between 18 and 30 who are keen to fulfil their farming ambitions.

The new programme was being officially launched at the Borderway Agri Expo in Carlisle on November 1. It will highlight case studies from those who benefitted from the programme and will also be supported by a social media campaign aimed at aspiring young farmers.

Programme co-ordinator Kate Gascoyne said “We have just completed follow-up research on our early programmes and it’s clear that in addition to the grants and loans, it is the support and networking that have been of great benefit to the young farmers – and almost without exception, they all felt much more confident about what they were doing as a result of attending the enterprise workshops.

“Everyone on the programme has a different journey so the elements of the programme make an impact in different ways.

“Some developed their plans, others changed direction, some decided their idea wasn’t viable, but they all found the support and network of contacts very useful.”

Mark Curr from Newbiggin on Lune was one of the original participants – he is now mentoring Georgia Hunter who runs a goat business. Tom and Claire Noblet from Kirkby Lonsdale area, worked towards shared farming and now a tenancy on a dairy farm –it was their inspiring talk at a programme workshop that made a big impact on other programme attendees.

Kate Gascoyne said “When we were planning the next programme we talked to past participants to see what made an impact on them. It’s clear that hearing from those who have gone before makes a real difference – a positive young voice with practical experience. ”.

The next programme kicks off in January with three workshops. Kate said “We’re keen to hear from young people wanting to develop their farming careers. It’s not just a programme to for children brought up on farms – it’s open to anyone with a passion for farming who has the drive and dedication to grow their ideas, but have faced barriers preventing them getting the help they need. Our advice is – ‘you’ve nothing to lose by finding out if the programme can help you achieve your farming ambitions – so get in touch to find out more.”

The 2020 programme starts in January. Anyone wishing to find out more should contact Kate on 01768 881462 or visit www.thefarmernetwork/projects/business-support-for-young-people