FARMERS in Nidderdale are invited to apply for free individual business advice in preparation for Brexit.

The Princes Countryside Fund has given a grant to the Friends of Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to provide farmers in the area with free business and environmental advice so they can draw up long term plans.

Farming is vitally important to Nidderdale. It helps create the landscape of the AONB and remains the mainstay of the rural communities and rural economy.

However, despite great skill, sheer hard work and determination, many farm businesses in the AONB are barely profitable. Growing uncertainty about the years following Brexit is placing an extra burden on farmers.

Now the AONB has commissioned the Rural Business Research Unit at Askham Bryan College and an Upper Wharfedale farmer and business management adviser to support development of the business plans.

Marian Wilby, the AONB’s land management team leader, will work with them to assess the potential for farms to qualify for agri-environment payments after the UK leaves the EU.

The programme will provide farmers with an independent, confidential review of the current farm business and an opportunity to plan for the current and future Brexit uncertainties.

It will also give access to a simple, personal and immediate on-farm business reviewing process and an environmental assessment to review the effect of a more environmental approach on the farm business by linking it with the financial review.

Heather Garnett, chair of the AONB Friends committee, said: “Having done my stint as a Nidderdale farmer in the past, I know just how hard things can be.

“With an uncertain future ahead, an opportunity to take stock and review plans for the farm alongside expert advisers is very timely. The Friends are very grateful to the Princes Countryside Fund for their support.”

Andrew Hattan, an Upper Nidderdale farmer, said: “This is perfect timing. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and hope things will turn out alright.

“There are big changes on the horizon and we need to be ready for them by making our businesses as resilient as we can so they are able to withstand the impact and take advantage of new opportunities when they arise.”

AONB farmers are invited to apply for a place on the programme which begins in September.

For more information, call Marian Wilby on 07713 333187 or email