Busy summer for Business Development Groups

Members of Kilrea Dairy BDG discussing grazing management on Arnold Boyce’s farm in Garvagh in June 2016. The group is facilitated by Alan Agnew
Members of Kilrea Dairy BDG discussing grazing management on Arnold Boyce’s farm in Garvagh in June 2016. The group is facilitated by Alan Agnew

During the summer months, over 2,900 farmers have been reaping the benefits of being part of the Business Development Groups (BDG) scheme which is delivered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Over 350 BDG training events have taken place from the beginning of May across the agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Most of the training events have taken place on farm and discussion topics proving popular have focussed on improving technical efficiency and animal health and welfare.

Farmers have attended their group training events in their numbers with very good turnout reported by the locally based CAFRE Development Advisers. Early evaluation of the programme has been very positive with high levels of satisfaction reported around the impact of BDGs on farm businesses and the organisation of the BDG training events.

Business Development Groups (BDG) is part-funded through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and the scheme aims to help farmers improve their technical and business efficiency, assist with long term planning of their farm business and improve access to new technologies and innovative ways of working.

Key to the success of the programme is ensuring that the right farmers are in the right groups.

Participants have one opportunity to change the group they have been allocated to if they find they have little in common with the other group members.

DAERA will continue to offer support to farmers who have chosen not to be part of the BDG scheme. Farm Family Key Skills, a sister scheme to BDGs, which will be delivered through CAFRE, will provide farmers outside of Groups with training across four core areas which are; animal health, health and safety, business planning and DAERA IT systems.