AN exciting project to develop and pilot a Farming Smarter Toolkit has received funding for a Project Officer.

The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) have worked with organisations and farmers, including the Farmer Network, Eden Rivers Trust, and Orton Fells Farm Cluster, in Cumbria to develop the initial proposal. This now needs to be taken forward by the Project Officer over the next 12-months.

The Toolkit is to support farm businesses to adapt as direct payments are phased out. The purpose of the project is to upskill upland farmers and their advisors in environmental management and farm business finance. This will focus on integrating food production with enhancing public goods and improving financial resilience.

Learning from this pilot would be shared nationally, with the hope the Toolkit can be used by many more farmers and farming advisors.

The Project Officer will be working with the FFCC Cumbria Inquiry Chair, Julia Aglionby, and FFCC Cumbria Inquiry Coordinator, Hannah Field, supported by a steering group and network of partners including NFU, Foundation for Common Land, Farmer Network, Federation for Cumbria Commoners and the PFLA amongst others.

Julia Aglionby says “We need to plug the gaps in support available to farm businesses as direct payments are phased out and enable navigation through the advice and support becoming available to them. The Toolkit development provides an excellent opportunity to do this, including direct delivery of training to advisors and farmers, whilst creating a resource that can be further developed and used both in Cumbria and rolled out nationally.”