Elin JonesWelsh assembly rural affairs minister, says encouraging young entrants into farming can only bring innovation and enthusiasm.

Launching a consultation at the Royal Welsh Show on how the £2m she has set aside to support young farmers should be spent, Ms Jones insisted that they were important in sustaining rural communities and the Welsh culture.

“Young entrants represent the future,” she claimed. “Removing the barriers that young entrants face and supporting them as they set up their businesses has been a priority for me since I became minister.”

She was pleased to be publishing the consultation at the start of the show, where she wanted to stimulate discussion and get the views of young entrants themselves. This would start at a breakfast she was hosting on Wednesday 23 July.

Support for young entrants

“There are a number of ways we can provide support for young entrants, including providing advice on marketing and business plans, one-to-one mentoring, encouraging joint ventures with established farmers and assisting with the issue of access to land and housing.”

She invited industry stakeholders to give their views on these ideas, and on using the £2m available from 2010 to set up a loan or subsidy scheme for the purchase of equipment or construction of buildings or for targeted support for young entrepreneurs in the industry.

Support would be delivered through the Rural Development Plan 2007/13 to new entrants under the age of 40 who possessed adequate occupational kills, qualifications or competence.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that there may be between 100 and 200 young entrants to farming in Wales every year.

Those interested in the consultation can find details at www.wales.gov.uk.