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Ards Agricultural Community to Avail of Rural Support’s New Winter Programme

November 2020 - The Ards Advertiser

 L to R, Health Minister Robin Swann, Veronica Morris, Chief Executive of Rural Support, John Thompson – Chair of Rural Support and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and Health Minister Robin Swann have jointly launched Rural Support’s new Winter Programme 2020.

The brand new initiative aims to help farmers in Ards and across Northern Ireland deal with the pressures of farming throughout the winter months, remain resilient, keep their farm sustainable and aid positive physical and mental health.

Speaking about the launch, Minister Poots commented: “I am very pleased to launch the ‘For Farmers by Farmers’ Winter Programme’, Rural Support’s latest initiative to assist the farming community. While farmers are generally very resilient, this has been a particularly difficult year for the agriculture sector with COVID-19 having an impact across the board. Our farmers are absolutely essential and this has clearly been demonstrated during the pandemic as we came to realise not only where our food comes from, but the high-quality, high-standards and love and dedication that goes into each and every farm. We must do everything we can to support them.

“The new Winter Programme addresses the issues identified in their recent extensive survey of farmers and farm workers, including the continuing pressures on the farmer and farm families which are affecting not only the farm business but also their mental and physical health.  The Programme covers a wide variety of topics and I urge the farming community to actively engage in the Winter Programme to help increase their capacity to deal with these pressures.”

Rural Support recently surveyed members of the farming community. Results indicate that 77% of participants were not optimistic about the future and 43% were concerned about their physical and mental wellbeing. Over half of the participants felt they needed support with their financial and business management, 35% wished to explore diversification options and 30% wanted to look into the area of succession planning. 

With support from various organisations including the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, CAFRE and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Rural Support’s Winter Programme involves three main projects – The Business of Farming, Coping with the Pressures of Farming and The Prince’s Countryside Fund Farm Resilience Programme.

For more information or to register your interest in any of the programmes please call Rural Support’s Farm Business Unit on 028 8676 0040 or email Pre-registration is essential, and all programmes will be delivered in line with Covid 19 rules and regulations. 



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