AN independent not-for-profit organisation that encourages young people into the farming industry will benefit from a further two years of funding.

For six years, The Farmer Network has been supported by The Prince’s Trust and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which has helped 76 young people in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales to follow their dream and start the process to set up or develop a farming-related business.

On completing the network’s programme, known as Business Support for Young People, many have created new businesses and most of these are still going strong.

Now the Prince’s Trust has offered a further two years financial support up to July 2019.

The programme is offered to 18-30 year olds who have a farm-related business idea, but are limited by the resources or opportunities available to them. It comprises a short course on the basics of business planning, one-to-one support from an experienced farm business adviser and the chance to apply for a low interest loan and training grant, plus ongoing support from a volunteer business mentor.

Kate Gascoyne, project manager, said: “The types of new business ventures we have supported has been quite varied across Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales.

“To date, they have included new beef and sheep enterprises, agricultural engineering and repairs businesses, sheep contracting services, cheese production from home-produced milk, and commercial duck egg production.”

One person to benefit is Graham Smith, from near Skipton, who was working full time for a motorsport fabrication company and using his welding skills to maintain and repair farmers’ equipment on evenings and weekends.

After much deliberation, he left with the intention of being a subcontract welder.

Graham said: “A few months after I had started self-employment, I heard about The Farmer Network programme and decided to apply. After attending the weekend workshops, I worked with a business adviser to help produce a business plan to develop my agricultural implement manufacture and repair business.

“I used the business plan to apply for funding and was offered a loan and grant to help me develop the business.”

Rob Hitch, chair of the programme’s business launch group, said: “The Farmer Network has a proud track record delivering business support for young people. The extended Prince’s Trust funding has ensured that during this difficult time leading up to Brexit, young people can still proceed with a good farm business idea, and will be supported to do so.”

The Farmer Network will be hosting an Explore Enterprise session in the coming months for any new applicants.

Young people who are passionate about starting or developing their own farming-related business, within or close to Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, should contact Kate Gascoyne at The Farmer Network on 01768 881462 or 07548 934282 or by emailing