On Friday (21 October) DEFRA launched a new service to provide free business advice to England’s farmers. 

The Farm Business Advice Service – Knowing Your Options, is to help farmers claiming the Single Payment to consider the implications for their business and to explore options for change – including restructuring, diversification and co-operation. 

DEFRA is to spend £7.5m on the new service which is designed for flexibility to reflect the fact that farmers’ advice needs vary. 

The service will include:

• Telephone information and advice
• Local advice clinics
• Half-day farm visits

In some areas, workshops and conferences are also planned – the precise mix of activities will vary from region to region.

The service, which will run until the end of March 2007, will be delivered by experienced farm business consultants under eight regional contracts with DEFRA.

Speaking at the launch, Farming Minister Lord Bach said:

“Farmers are facing a momentous change over the next couple of years following the decoupling of subsidies from production. 

“Many of them are embracing the opportunities this creates to develop their businesses in new ways, but some need support through the changes ahead. 

“That is why Defra has committed £7.5m to this new service to help farmers focus on the options for their businesses over the next few years.

Full details of the service, including regional contact details, click here