Reflecting on The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farm Support Group Conference

As a representative of Myerscough College through the Farm for the Future programme, I had the privilege to attend The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farm Support Group Conference. The conference was held on 9th and 10th March at the NFU conference centre at Stoneleigh. Despite the snowstorms, Victoria and I were determined to attend. The conference was incredibly insightful, with two days of talks and discussions from experts in the field.

Insights from the Conference:

Discussions on the first day centred on policy, with speakers tackling topics such as sustainability, changes to BPS payments, TB, soils, and tree planting. The second day focused on supporting farmers with topics such as carbon, succession, and helping the next generation. Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, noted that this was a particularly exciting time for the Fund’s work with Farm Support Groups across the UK. The attendance of over 70 representatives from 33 farm support groups reflects the initiative’s growth.

Collaboration and Networking:

What struck me most about the conference was the level of collaboration and knowledge-sharing among the representatives. Seeing many organisations together to support farming families across Great Britain and Northern Ireland was truly inspiring. There were ample opportunities to hear from those working with the farm support groups, including Gillian Reid from Rural Support NI, Harry Seran and Chris McVey from RSABI, Gareth Davies from Tir Dewi, and many more.

Learning about Carbon and Future-Proofing:

As a representative of Myerscough College, I was particularly interested in learning about the opportunities for farmers to work with carbon and how to future-proof their businesses. Becky Willson of Farm Carbon Toolkit gave a particularly engaging session on the subject, highlighting the potential benefits for farmers in building resilience.

Amazing Hospitality at Hilltop Farm:

In addition to the insightful conference sessions, we were also treated to the amazing food and hospitality at Hilltop Farm in Leamington Spa. This added to the experience and made it even more memorable.

I feel grateful to have been part of such a transformative event and learned so much from the experts and other representatives. The Farm for the Future programme has given me a unique perspective on the challenges facing farmers and the ways in which organisations can collaborate to support them. I am excited to bring these insights back to Myerscough College and Lancashire.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund’s Farm Support Group Initiative has done an incredible job in bringing together such a diverse range of organisations and supporting them through training and online seminars. The initiative’s growth over the years is a testament to its success in helping farm support groups become more sustainable and responsive to the demands of the industry. Their commitment to supporting small farmers in the UK is inspiring, and I feel privileged to have been part of such a transformative event.