Diversifying into a non-farming business venture is now commonplace as Welsh farmers look to secure their financial future, with many tapping into Farming Connect resources for support, guidance and knowledge ahead of establishing those alternative income streams.
For farmers, growers and others registered with Farming Connect, there is everything from one-to-one advice surgeries to training courses that can help secure the best possible outcome for a diversification idea.
We look at what is on offer.
Businesses registered with Farming Connect can book a free one-to-one session with an adviser on a specialist topic to get advice and guidance tailored to their own diversification projects or ideas.
During these sessions there is the chance to briefly discuss business ideas or issues before moving forward with the project.
There are a range of topics available including looking at the steps required for starting a diversification project, with discussion on potential ideas and what could work for a business.
Marketing and social media is important to any new venture, therefore advisers are available to give guidance on these, as well as planning and development - everything from new builds, renovations and conversions to renewable energy plans and tourism opportunities.
Financial planning and accountancy can also be covered at these surgeries as well as business performance, where a business plan can be reviewed and the benchmarking process started.
Through the Advisory Service, access to subsidised specialist independent advice is available on diversification and adding value.
Our advisers are able to give bespoke advice, they could assess the feasibility of a proposal, conduct financial planning of a new or existing project, compile market research and advice on other elements such as regulations and legislation of the proposal.
Farming Connect has an extensive portfolio of training courses with many of these pertinent to diversification.
Among the topics are agricultural business planning, marketing a business and planning a diversification or new enterprise on a farm. Gain the knowledge to work more safely and sustainably with first aid and food safety, allergen awareness and courses available through IOSH and IEMA. Learn the skills to manage your staff effectively with courses offered through ILM. Once you have established your new diversification, there are a range of digital marketing courses to help promote your new venture - all funded by 80%.
A range of online e-learning modules are available including collaborative and share farming, farm business diversification, planning and finance, precision technology in agriculture, renewable energy and VAT. These can be accessed from home at a time and place convenient to you.
We know that you like to see what other farmers have done. That’s why Farming Connect provides farmer to farmer mentoring, and have a team of mentors that have been there and done that.
There are many approved mentors eager to share their own experiences of diversifying, including specialist mentors on property development and tourism for example.
This support includes 15 hours of fully funded mentoring sessions with a chosen mentor, through face-to-face visits, telephone conversations, video calling or an email exchange.
Some mentors specialise in diversification and can be found here.
When undertaking a diversification project into a sector that is unfamiliar, forming a group with others who are going through a similar process can provide some much-needed thinking space and support.
Under the leadership of a trained facilitator, Agrisgôp brings together 8 - 10 businesses to learn new management skills, access specialist information and support and challenge each other to drive the project forward. Click here to choose your facilitator.
Farming Connect’s recent Innovation and Diversification Event featured a range of live podcasts, with three specific to diversification.
In one, Claire Jones discusses dairy diversification at Pant Farm, Llanddewi Brefi, while David Selwyn of Landsker looks at what to consider before diversifying and is joined by two people who have set up novel on-farm businesses.
Diversification opportunities within the horticulture industry in Wales are also explored.
There are over 80 episodes available that can be listened to at any time and from anywhere, so take a look on the Farming Connect website or search for the Ear to the Ground podcast on Apple i-tunes or Spotify to explore the wide range of interviews with farmers and industry experts on a range of topical themes.