News

Focus Farm Programme is now open for visitors

15th March 2012

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has opened the Focus Farm Programme during a visit to a Ballycastle farm which has been selected for the scheme.

She made the announcement at newly appointed focus farmer, Eoin McCambridge's premises in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. His farm is one of 55 newly appointed farms, which farmers can now to book visit.

Speaking after a tour of the McCambridge's new focus farm, the Minister said: "Farmers across the North of Ireland will be glad to see the new Focus Farm Programme up and running, as it will provide a much needed helping hand to the rural economy. The programme offers a wide range of technologies and benchmarking training under one roof, as I've seen on my tour of Eoins' focus farm today.

"The speciality on this focus farm is renewable energy and I welcome the news that there is now a network of 55 focus farmers. These cover many key agricultural sectors including Dairying, Beef, Sheep, Pigs, Arable Commercial Horticulture, Organic, Renewable Energy, Diversification and Environmental."

Emphasising the benefits of focus farms to the wider farming community, the Minister added: "The Focus Farm Programme is part of the Rural Development Programme and its primary purpose is a training measure delivered by farmers for farmers. Farmers can share experiences, solve common problems and benchmark their own business performance. It is in every farmer's interest to make full use of excellent training resources such as focus farms. This will not only help them improve their own farms, but also contribute to the long-term sustainability of local farming overall."

The Focus Farm Programme will be co-ordinated by the Focus Farm Centre as part of the Countryside Agri-Rural Partnership. Dr Sam Campbell, Focus Farm Centre Director said: "Visiting farmers can learn and share ideas through farm walk visits, through discussion and follow-up mentoring opportunity. The aim of the programme is to promote the adoption of good practice in terms of production, environment, welfare, market awareness and business management. Today we release the list of focus farmers who will become operative over the coming weeks and would remind all farmers that there is no cost for focus farm visits - share the experience"

For enquiries or bookings, contact the Focus Farm Centre 0845 026 7536. Further information may be obtained by visiting the website at www.countrysiderural.co.uk

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.