Business Discussion Groups

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union is encouraging members to apply to the first phase of the farm business improvement scheme. It is a great opportunity to learn from fellow farmers by sharing ideas and improving skills in business management, new technologies and innovative ways of working.

In these challenging times, this new programme will assist farmers in acquiring the skills necessary to help make the right decisions about their businesses for the future.

Each Business Discussion Group will comprise of 15 – 20 like-minded farmers who will meet up to eight times a year to focus on the topics agreed by the group. The group will be facilitated by a CAFRE Development Advisor and activities will include on-farm meetings, demonstrations and skills training.

Farmers who participate in the BDG scheme will be required to attend several training events each year, be willing to undertake benchmarking, share their farm performance information with other group members and be willing to host a visit for the group, during which members will discuss technical performance and progress towards meeting business objectives.

In the instance of high biosecurity farms, meetings will be held in halls/hotel rooms. Actual farm visits will be replaced by a producer presenting his enterprise using audio-visual aids. As farmers work towards meeting their business objectives, they will have the opportunity to accredit their work and gain a Level 3 qualification.

The programme will meet costs incurred by the farmer – eligible claims will include replacement labour while they are attending training events, travel to and from training events and initial costs associated with analytical services. Where farmers attend all eight training events they will qualify for a payment of up to £490 per year.

This payment is planned for the first two years of the programme and will then be reviewed. An allowance of up to £600 per visit for hosting a training event will also be payable, however this payment will be available to farmers throughout the lifetime of the scheme.

While the scheme impacts on individual’s business performance the resultant collective impact will see positive impacts on the industry as a whole with enhanced technology uptake, greater animal health awareness, improved efficiencies and more investment in the intensive sectors.

A farm business does not need to be part of a Business Discussion Group to apply for future Rural Development Programme 2014- 2020 schemes.

CAFRE will be running information evenings for those thinking of applying for the business development groups.

Day Date Start Time Venue

Monday, November 30, 8pm Newry - Mourne Country

Tuesday, December 1, 8pm Loughry Campus, Cookstown

Tuesday, December 1, 8pm Ballymoney - Rugby Club

Tuesday, December 1, 8pm Enniskillen Campus

Wednesday, December 2, 8pm Greenmount Campus

Wednesday, December 2, 8pm Strabane - Fir Trees

Thursday, December 3, 8pm Ballynahinch - Millbrook Lodge

Monday, December 7, 8pm Limavady - Radisson Roe Valley

Applications should be made on-line at www.eugrants.org. Hard copies are available through CAFRE.

The closing date for applications is Monday 14 December and the UFU is encouraging any farmer interested in improving their business performance to apply. The business development groups will help farmers develop new skills that they will need to meet future changes to farm business management.