Welsh farmer mentoring scheme to inspire new entrants

Young people in Wales who want to farm are to be matched with farmers keen to exit the industry.

The initiative, which will involve creating a joint opportunities platform (JOP), is to be implemented by the Welsh government following a wide-ranging review of mobility within Welsh agriculture.

The government has accepted all but four of the 28 recommendations made by former NFU Cymru Director, Malcolm Thomas, who led the review. Some of the recommendations will be implemented as early as December.

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The new JOP will identify and match farmers interested in entering into contract or share farming agreements with new entrants who need a route into agriculture.

With access to land one of the most significant barriers to new entrants, NFU Cymru has welcomed this initiative in particular.

The union’s president, Stephen James, said providing opportunities for young people to enter the industry must be a key objective.

“We believe that the recommendations aimed at stimulating mobility by supporting farmers who wish to scale back or leave the industry and through matching these farmers and new entrants will be so important,’’ he said.

Farming charities will be drafted in to help create a “best practice” model for retiring farmers. The availability of affordable or joint equity housing provision will be scrutinised together with the provision of targeted retirement planning advice.

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Taxation has come under the spotlight too. The Welsh government has agreed to ask the Treasury to urgently consider if the taxation regime hinders entry into, or exit from farming.

Business management, leadership and succession planning will become compulsory features of the future Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) programme.

A recommendation that the government has declined to take on board is the creation of a dedicated pension for retiring farmers. “Provision for pension planning across a range of sectors that are appropriate to agri-food businesses are already provided for by the financial services sector,” it said.