Figures released this week reveal a 14% leap in applicants to a scheme aimed at supporting young entrants to farming in Wales.
The Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) which aims to support young people setting up on their own for the first time and encouraging succession in the farming industry, received 144 applications in its second year.
Wales’ rural affairs minister said the figure demonstrated the need for targeted support for new entrants to farming.
“The first year of the scheme has resulted in many excellent and innovative projects that clearly support the scheme’s main objectives and I’m sure that this will also be the case in the second year,” said Elin Jones.
Mentoring, which gives successful applicants access to help and guidance from established, successful farmers, has also been a big hit, she said.
“Initial feedback from both mentors and applicants has been very positive and confirms what the industry already knows: that there are a great many, highly-skilled, enthusiastic, and committed young people who wish to enter the industry; that these young people will gain a great deal by working with the best people in the industry; and that we need to support these young people to ensure the agricultural industry in Wales has a successful future,” said the minister.
One of last year’s applicants, 23-year-old John Thomas, was given mentoring and £6000 to buy some of the equipment he needed to set up a 50-acre council holding near Harlech.
Mr Thomas said a Welsh assembly government-funded scheme designed to support young people wanting to run a farm had personally been a great help. “Additional start-up funding enabled me to buy the machinery I needed to get my business off the ground,” he said. “Just as valuable, if not more so, was the excellent mentoring I received, both from assembly government officials and my mentor Gerwyn.”
His mentor introduced him to farmers who both inspired him and gave him expert advice on stock management, pasture management and cost control.