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Entrepreneurial outlook urged in post-Brexit farming industry

Farming families with an entrepreneurial attitude are going to be most successful at dealing with the upheavals expected to be brought about by Brexit, according to new research.

Entrepreneurial outlook urged in post-Brexit farming industry

Conducted by economic development company Menter a Busnes, the research also reveals that new entrants and young people are more likely to accept new ideas and embrace change.

A strong ‘can do’ attitude came through in the research, which reviewed engagement with the 15,494 farming individuals currently signed up to the Farming Connect programme run by Menter a Busnes. 

An independent company, Menter a Busnes has been providing support to the agricultural sector in Wales for 25 years.  It employs 90 staff and provides bilingual business support services directly to private clients, as well as via government programmes in other sectors.

The research was unveiled at: ‘Succeeding in the face of change’ – an event organised by Menter a Busnes to look at future opportunities in farming, food, tourism and ICT, including how they can work together for the benefit of all. 

Held at Plas Isaf, Corwen, its opening address was given by economy secretary, Ken Skates.  He said:

“The Welsh Government is committed to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Wales enabling young people in our rural communities to realise their potential for business.  Through our Big Ideas Wales programme we are supporting the YFC business awards to ensure young entrepreneurs have access to support and encouragement to develop their business ideas.

“In addition to Big Ideas Wales, we have supported more than 7,500 farmers through our Farming Connect programme with an investment of £6.5m to date. The programme is focussed on modernisation and professionalism, with a view to driving up   business acumen and increasing prosperity and resilience in the sector.”

Entitled: ‘Changing attitudes and facilitating knowledge exchange in the agriculture sector in Wales,’ the research also showed that support from Farming Connect has led to positive outcomes for farming families including:

·      Increased confidence and positive attitudes amongst farmers to embrace change

·      An increase in the willingness to focus on the business, to learn new skills and introduce improvements to the business 

·      Improvement in gender equality within the industry and better opportunities for young people 

·      The vast majority of farmers (95 per cent) state that Farming Connect activities delivered by Menter a Busnes had a positive impact on their lives and businesses

·      Collaborative projects, although small in number, have challenged farmers to venture out of their comfort zones and make their businesses more prosperous and sustainable 

"Our research showed that there is a strong 'can do' attitude and optimism about the opportunities that lie ahead for rural Wales"
Eirwen Williams

·      Positive developments in relation to ownership and transfer of businesses, succession and management structures 

The research was undertaken to anticipate the kind of support that would be most beneficial to the agriculture sector following Brexit.

The Farming Connect advisory service also provides advice to a total of 208 groups, of which 14 are joint venture groups where individuals who want to take a step back from the industry are matched with new entrants looking for a way into farming.  


Menter a Busnes spokesman, Eirwen Williams, said: 

“Our research showed that there is a strong 'can do' attitude and optimism about the opportunities that lie ahead for rural Wales.

“There is clear evidence that agriculture is likely to experience significant change, especially during the transitional period when leaving the European Union.

“The exact nature of the changes and their implications are uncertain, but they are sure to present a number of challenges as well as opportunities to the agriculture industry in Wales.

“It is clear, however, that families with an entrepreneurial attitude, who have the relevant skills and knowledge, the confidence to embrace change and to act on the opportunities, will have the best chance to survive and to thrive.

“With this in mind, delivering forward-thinking knowledge exchange and advisory services, which will both challenge and support farmers, such as those delivered by Farming Connect and Cywain, will become increasingly important in years to come.”

Other speakers included:

• Sean Taylor, co-founder of Zip World

• Angharad Gwyn, Founder & Owner of Welsh products company Adra

• Two international speakers: 
Ifor Ffowcs-Williams (New Zealand) and Prof Jérémie Forney, a sustainable agriculture specialist (Switzerland).

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