A PROGRAMME which offers free business skills, training and advice could help Northumberland farmers as new groups are launching in the county.

The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme (PFRP) offers support to family farms in 15 locations across the UK each year.

River Catchment Services, working with the Farmer Network, will be facilitating a group based around Stocksfield.

The Farmer Network will also be running a separate group based around Alston.

The Farmer Network is an independent not-for-profit company providing help and support to farmers in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.

Each group has funding to support up to 20 farm businesses, with a series of six workshops and one-to-one support to help farmers consider their options for the future.

The six workshop topics are: Business Health Check, Benchmarking, Practical cost management, Getting to know your finances, Managing your farmed environment, Planning your future, and Business planning and managing change.

The programme will start this autumn.

Danielle Anderson Walker from River Catchment Services said: “It has never been a more important time for farmers to understand the changes to support payments, the impact on their businesses, and how they might adapt to cope with these challenges and maximise opportunities.

"This Programme includes a Business Health Check, one-to-one support and a series of workshops covering business and environmental management.

"The other benefit is the support farmers and their families can get from being part of a group of like-minded farm businesses.”

The Prince's Countryside Fund is a charity founded in 2010 by Prince Charles.

It aims to empower family farms and rural communities to survive and thrive.

If you would like to find out more about the programme, please call Danielle Anderson- Walker about the Stocksfield group on 07939317760 or Kate Gascoyne about the Alston group on 07548 934 282.