Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Boost for young farmers

I didn’t get a chance to blog about this yesterday and I know others have already done so, but I would like to wholeheartedly welcome the scheme announced by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones yesterday to encourage and support new entrants to farming. The Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) is an extremely welcome and encouraging step and a real boost for our rural areas at this difficult time. It’s also something Plaid Cymru has been campaigning in favour of for years, and therefore, it’s a massive achievement that the scheme has finally come into existence.

According to the official press release:

The assistance package includes the following key elements:

a one off direct aid grant up to a maximum of £15,000;

access to a dedicated Young Entrants Business Enabler service;

access to funded mentoring services from established farmers.

In addition to providing information and advice, the Young Entrants Business Enabler will actively promote and broker joint ventures between young entrants and established farmers. A database will match up potential partners with a view to them entering into business together. This will hopefully encourage innovative business solutions that ensure the long-term survival of viable farming businesses, and potentially identify appropriate succession options.

I know Elin Jones is a Plaid Cymru Minister and therefore you’d expect me to sing her praises, but you must admire her for all the things she’s achieved in this brief, whatever party you’re from. I cannot think of anyone better suited to the role – she’s just brilliant and understands exactly what policies to implement to make a real difference to our rural societies, such as Montgomeryshire. She’s not afraid to take tough decisions and stand by them either, something which I hugely admire. All the farmers I’ve met when campaigning are great fans of hers, and this announcement will only confirm in their minds that she’s the right person for the job.

• Those interested in obtaining further information should check out the following website: www.wales.gov.uk/farming

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