actnow sets out to take Cornish farming into the digital age
actnow, the Objective One project that is
led by Cornwall Enterprise and has spearheaded the take up
of broadband by businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly,
is now set to drive the use of broadband to new heights amongst
the farming community. The South West of England Regional
Development Agency has awarded actnow additional
funding so the project can increase its support to farms and
smallholdings in Cornwall.
"actnow has been promoting broadband
specifically to farmers for 18 months," said Project
Director Nigel Ashcroft, "and so far, we have helped
350 farms. With this additional round of funding, we have
formed a dedicated agricultural team and our target is to
support at least a further 560 in the next two years. We have
been working closely with organisations such as the Cornwall
Agricultural Council and Cornwall Quality Livestock Producers,"
"It is inspiring to see how avidly the farming
community is embracing the benefits of broadband. We have
already achieved growth of broadband amongst businesses in
Cornwall that is ahead of any other rural area of the UK.
Now, we are aiming to achieve a rate of broadband use amongst
farmers in Cornwall that is also leading the UK. This will
give our farmers a competitive edge."
Broadband is already making a huge difference to the farm
businesses that are making use of the new technology. Patricia
James of Folly Farm, a 185 acre dairy and beef farm near Penzance
says: "With our old dial up internet connection,
it used to take me ages to do a batch of passports. Since
we have had broadband, it rarely takes me ten minutes. I don't
know how we managed without it."
Charles James, also of Folly Farm, added: "We have
made significant savings by purchasing supplies online. It's
also very useful to be able to access information quickly
on anything from new product developments to the latest milk
quota prices. With broadband, the connection is permanently
on, so with just one quick trip to the computer, I can buy
what I need or check something out."
In addition to subsidising the cost of connection to broadband,
actnow can offer financial assistance and
free expert advice to farms to help them upgrade their IT
systems. This could include, for example, software specially
designed for farms to make running the business easier and
more efficient, laptop computers and other handheld devices,
websites and much more.
Martyn Warren, Director of the Rural Futures Unit at the
University of Plymouth, says: "This is a very significant
development, as it is very unusual to see such rapid growth
in the use of broadband in the farming community. There will
be many valuable lessons here for other rural areas to learn
from the Cornish experience."
Fabian King, Head of Regional ICT at the South West Regional
Development Agency says: "Farming is undergoing
a period of intense change and transformation. With broadband,
it is easier to take advantage of new opportunities and save
valuable time on paperwork and compliance. Broadband can open
up new markets for farm businesses as well as revolutionise
the way the business is run."
David Rodda of Cornwall Agricultural Council said: "High
speed internet access is becoming ever more important for
farmers and other land based businesses with the introduction
of digital mapping and electronic data transfer. actnow
reduces the barriers to access and we would encourage all
farmers and land based businesses to find out what broadband
can do for your business."
actnow will be attending local agricultural
events with their Broadband Demonstrator Vehicle and invites
the farming community to ask for a demonstration of broadband
in action. It is also possible to visit farms to show broadband
in action and explain how it can benefit individual businesses.
The Broadband Demonstrator Vehicle will be at The Farmers
Pavilion at the Royal Cornwall Show. For more information
about actnow, farm businesses can call Paul
Middleton on 0800 800 935 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information please contact Lynn File of actnow
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in actnow through the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural
Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
The actnow programme is a demand-led initiative
to encourage businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
to gain the support they need to move into the broadband economy.
It is one of the largest private and public sector partnerships
in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly since it was granted Objective
One status by the European Union in 2000.
The £20 million project is part financed by the European
Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund
(EAGGF). Other project partners include Cornwall Enterprise,
the Objective One Partnership Office, BT, the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the South West of England
Regional Development Agency, Cornwall County Council, Business
Link Devon and Cornwall and Cornwall College.
The Connecting South West programme brings together the South
West of England Regional Development Agency, local authorities
and business support organisations to ensure that businesses
are aware of the opportunities available to help them use
ICT to improve their business performance.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439