The National Trust is offering its farmer tenants free access to the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme to help boost business skills.
The statutory agency has entered into an agreement with the Prince’s Countryside Fund to run the programme for up to 60 of its farm tenants in four areas of the country.
Whilst the exact detail is still to be worked out, they are likely to be in the North West, North Wales, the Midlands and the South West.
The programme offers free business skills training to family farms across the UK. Participants take part in a series of seven workshops which focus on different business skills to maximise profitability and resilience.
Topics include business planning, understanding accounts and budgeting, managing the farmed environment, and exploring new opportunities.
Alongside this, every farm receives one-to-one on farm support to take part in a Business Health Check Tool to look at their strengths and weaknesses and benchmark costs against similar farms.
The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has commended the National Trust for taking the initiative.
TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said: “We have been working hard behind the scenes with both the National Trust and the Fund to bring this to fruition, and we are delighted that an agreement has been reached to pilot this initiative in four areas starting this autumn.
“Whilst these areas focus predominantly on upland areas, the expectation is that, subject to the success of the pilot, further areas and farm types will be looked at.
“Feedback from those who have engaged with the programme to date has been excellent. I have no doubt that National Trust tenants will gain much from participating in the programme,” said Mr Dunn.
Apart from funding the places, the National Trust is taking a hands-off approach. It is not taking part in selecting which of its tenants should be offered places nor is it being provided with any confidential information about anyone who takes part.
At the end of the programme, a special session will be arranged to discuss and debate future National Trust policy involving senior staff from the statutory agency and the TFA.
The initiative will launch this summer and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.