Farm support group secures £48k grant

A group that supports small family farms in Cornwall has received a £48,000 grant from the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Based in Penzance, the Farm Cornwall community interest company provides crisis support, farm training, computer training and debt management.

At least 200 farmers will be supported by the grant.

Farm Cornwall adviser Edward Richardson said isolation was a big problem for Cornish farmers. It was 75 miles to the Devon border from Land’s End and then another hour by car to Exeter.

“If farmers want to attend an event elsewhere in the country then it takes up a lot of time they can’t afford to give,” said Mr Richardson.

“We can then go on their behalf and disseminate information to the farmers.”

Mr Richardson said that of the 400 farms on Farm Cornwall’s books, many were small dairy farms of 50-250 cows, and often one-person operations.

Help with the business side of the farms was therefore very useful, while farmers were able to concentrate on the farming side.

“We also help with crisis issues, such as death, divorce and ill-health. We are a free service and work on a confidential basis, so people will turn to us to help with financial issues.

“It may take years to turn a farm around but we are not constrained by time, and the farmers don’t have to worry about the cost of their support.”

The group also helps support those caring for family members and with acquiring grant aid. “We can act as a hub for farmers who want to buy or sell barley or silage, and also for labour.”

The grant is among a series from the Prince’s Countryside Fund that saw the allocation of £560,000 of funds towards training, rural communities, low-income farms and to help combat rural isolation.

Fund director Victoria Harris said dealing with rural isolation was one of the pillars of the charity’s work.

“Farm Cornwall does invaluable work in a part of the country where farmers can be isolated and face financial problems,” she said.

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