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Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Government ploughs £20m into courses for farmers

THE next generation of farmers will be given an opportunity to boost their careers by learning essential business skills.

Vicky and Peter Moffitt are considering introducing courses in farming skills at Vallum Farm, near Stamfordham.

A new £20m Government training scheme will support people who have already started working in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

Tynedale’s farming community has backed the national initiative, which is set to be rolled out at farms and village halls across the district.

It is open to people over 18 and existing businesses which are keen to further develop staff.

Liz Stewart, who runs MARRA Training, based at Walltown Farm near Greenhead, is set to run some of the courses, while Adrian Hinchcliffe, secretary of the Newton and Bywell Community Trust, is interested in bringing them to Newton and Bywell Community Hall.

Mr Hinchcliffe said: “There is demand for this type of course around here and I am certain that they would be welcome.

“We need to set the ball rolling locally so we benefit from this initiative in Tynedale.”

Peter and Vicky Moffit, who run a dairy farm, tea room and ice cream parlour at Vallum Farm, on the Military Road, near Stamfordham, have already been exploring the possibility of running their own courses. Now they are keen to find out more about the new Government scheme.

Vicky said: “Courses which are run locally in rural communities can only be a good thing.

“Times are changing and farms have diversified, so they are not just operating as traditional farms anymore. It’s important that people can learn a wide range of skills.

“You don’t necessarily have to be young to get involved because people looking for a career change also need to adopt new skills.

“Schemes such as this can only be good for the future of agriculture and the rural economy because it means there are people out there who are interested.”

Vicky said she had been thinking about introducing courses in farming skills, bread making and butchery at Vallum Farm.

She added: “We feel as though we could benefit people who are keen to get on with their career.

“Sometimes a lack of experience can be a problem for people. I am pleased that the Government is dedicated to subsidising this sort of training.”

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “For too long the needs of rural business people have been overlooked.

“Those days are now over. Businesses in the remotest parts of the country will now have access to the best training so they can grow and help our country to compete even more in the global race.”

Defra will meet 70 per cent of training costs through its rural development programme for England, with the remaining 30 per cent met by individual people and businesses taking part in the scheme.

The courses will be tailored to meet demand and will range from one-day workshops to industry-recognised qualifications. They will focus on business and management and market opportunities.

More information is available from www.defra.gov.uk