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12.05.06
Support available for farmers struggling with the Single Payment Scheme

James Bolitho and Tim Manhire at Wilton Farm, East Taphouse530 farmers in Devon and Cornwall have been receiving support from Business Link Devon and Cornwall to improve their business' performance and deal with issues such as the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).

The Business Link Rural Business Support Initiative is part funded by Objective One and Defra and can provide funding for a specialist consultant to carry out an 'Action Plan' for individual farms. Through one to one consultancy visits, farmers can discuss the SPS issues directly relevant to their business. The consultant provides an initial analysis of the financial and physical performance of the business, updates the SPS calculation and assesses the impact on the business. They will also make recommendations for the future and signpost further areas of support.

James Bolitho, who owns Wilton Farm near Liskeard has been working with consultant Tim Manhire and said the 'Action Plan' was of enormous benefit to the farm. "The consultancy work has been central to the success of the farm but I wouldn't have been able to fund it on my own. I only bought the farm in December 2002 so when it came to the single farm payment – I had no history to enable me to claim. But Tim was able to make an application to the National Reserve for me, partly based on the Action Plan and budgets and secure a good subsidy payment to safeguard the farm's future."

James continued: "In farming today, there is always a new scheme being announced which means more paperwork and if you don't get that right, your business will be at a disadvantage. I have had great benefit from the help I've received from Tim and Business Link and, as it is, the farm has been a success so far and we're developing the business strategy for the future."

After starting with the Action Plan, James has gone on to use the Rural Business Support Initiative to help fund further work with Tim. The 'Business Support' scheme part funds ongoing consultancy support for farmers who wish to improve their business performance or who wish to diversify part or all of their business away from farming.

Tim Manhire, of Tim Manhire Agricultural Consultancy Ltd said: "I help James with a whole range of issues from business planning to cashflow and budgets. We meet up every six weeks to monitor the performance of the business plan against the budget and evaluate whether we are still on course. We constantly assess how the business can go forward; James comes up with what he sees to be the best market opportunities and my job is to make it work profitably for the farm."

Tim continued: "For instance, we are currently looking at the enterprise mix and assessing which is the best way for the farm to go forward. When James started at Wilton Farm, the business was very subsidy based, however today with subsidies decoupled from production, decisions that were correct then in relation to increasing stock numbers must be questioned now. Because James hasn't got a high stocking rate, he's looking into the possibility of farming organically. This means that in the future he could produce beef and lamb for the organic market and receive a premium price, thereby reducing his reliance on subsidies."

Zoe Fox, contract manager with Business Link explains: "It is clear that many farmers are looking for support and advice to make the right decision for their business. Having the definitive entitlement statements will enable farmers to look at the future based on more accurate information and the Rural Business Support Initiative is there to help in this process, whether through one to one support on farm visits or ongoing consultancy help."

For further information please contact Maxine McAdams on 01566 771862 or email mmcadams@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Rural Business Support Initiative through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin Butler, at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally It provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners. Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West RDA.

Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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