Royal Welsh 09: Assembly announces young entrants scheme

The Welsh Assembly has created a £10m budget to help young entrants gain a foothold in farming.

The Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) will be open to applications in 2010 and is expected to attract around 100 younger people each year.

It includes the offer of a grant of up to £15,000 to those taking a 51% shareholding in a farm business.

The aid has to represent up to 50% of an approved capital or revenue investment made up the applicant, who must be under 40 years old.

To qualify the entrant must produce a business plan and have agricultural experience and training, or commit to acquiring relevant skills.

The cash cannot be used to buy land, livestock or machinery for contracting, though businesses doing some off-farm contracting are eligible.

The scheme will also give entrants access to a dedicated business enabler service and to fund the mentoring services of an established farmer.

The aim will be to actively promote and broker joint ventures between young and experienced farmers.

A database will match up potential partners with a view to them entering into business together.

“Evidence suggests that there are between 100 and 200 young entrants taking over the running of farming businesses in Wales each year,” said rural affairs minister Elin Jones when she launched the scheme.

“This rate needs to increase significantly if the industry is to thrive. The Welsh Assembly Government has recognised the need to harness the energy, drive and enthusiasm of young farmers.

“Through this scheme we will be able to channel those qualities in a way that allows innovation to flourish and successful businesses to emerge,” said Ms Jones.

“I am confident that this scheme represents a significant step in the right direction towards the creation of a dynamic and competitive farming industry in Wales,” she added.

NFU Cymru has welcomed the announcement. Dai Davies, NFU Cymru president said the package of measures showed a commitment and confidence to young entrepreneurs and provided a much needed financial fillip.

“After successive years of poor profitability many farms are hungry for investment. It can be particularly difficult for young farmers to source capital for development or diversification,” he said.