In 2015, we donated £250,000 through the Morrisons Foundation to The Prince’s Countryside Fund and its Farm Resilience Programme to support 4 years’ of workshop activity.
The Programme aims to support and develop vulnerable family farm businesses through a series of business skills workshops, competitor benchmarking as well as one-to-one support and resources.
We were delighted to welcome some of the course members the Programme supports on a ‘farm to fork’ tour. The day began with a tour of Holcombe Moor Farm who are one of the 2,700 farms supplying Morrisons directly, to demonstrate best farming practice. Delegates then enjoyed a tour of the Woodheads abattoir and meat processing plant in Colne, before visiting Morrisons’ processing factory, Farmers Boy in Bradford. To round off the trip the group were finally taken to the Morrisons store in Guiseley to meet the store team.
In 2019, we also welcomed farmers from the Cairngorms Farm Resilience group to our 'Seeing is Believing' tour. The day started at one of our beef suppliers, before moving to the Woodheads abattoir at Turriff, and the day finished with a trip to the Morrisons Inverurie store.
In 2019, we proudly entered into a new partnership with The Prince's Countryside Fund, where an additional £50,000 was donated from Morrisons to sponsor two of The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme groups: Garstang and Skipton. Find out more about how farmers in these groups have benefitted from the Programme below.
Meet The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme Farmers
Derek Clark; Garstang
“It’s great to see such a large corporation supporting small family farms”
Derek’s family have farmed in the uplands of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire for generations, where he and his wife have just shy of 400 ewes of a highlander breed which, until this year, they have lambed outside in April. But in order to develop their business, they have spread their lambing period to start from February inside. Given the success of this year they are looking to further spread the season next year, with the possibility of some December lambing.
They heard about The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme through the NFU’s weekly newsletter and from a neighbouring farmer who was also interested in the Programme.
“The Programme challenged your thinking, it’s a wake-up call for what is really going on with your business. What you pick up on the Programme really spurs you on. The upland land that isn't fit for much apart from some seasonal sheep grazing, being very wet it grows little else than rushes and tussock grass, so I’m planning to make it into wetland habitat with some woodland creation. For the better-quality land, some of which is ploughable, the intention is to direct drill with better grasses and legumes to provide forage of higher quality to offset reliance of bought in concentrate feed. So we’re looking at making use of legume crops, and using the fit land we do have more efficiently.”
“The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme allows farmers to be open and honest with others. It’s a great way for people to come together, to put your head above the parapet and own how well your business is doing, to talk things through with others in a similar situation and with the expertise of the consultants.”
“I would without a shadow of a doubt recommend the Programme. It shows you how you can
progress the business to do what it is supposed to do, to support yourself and your family,
provide a good quality of life, and prepare for retirement. Farming is what we want to do in
life, so it’s important to be doing it the best we can, and make the best use of our time and
Louise Hobson; Skipton
Louise and John farm a commercial flock of around 700 Easycare sheep, and a 120 head suckler herd of Stabilisers in West Yorkshire. “We heard about The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme at a breakfast reception held by NFU Mutual at the Great Yorkshire Show and thought it would be a good opportunity to network and provide a flow of information. It’s hard for a lot of farmers to change their ways to suit the market demands, so it’s good to see, talk and explain through these
“The biggest benefit for us has been looking into our accounts. We have done benchmarking before, but the consultants at the workshop put emphasis on putting figures on your time, and show the importance of spending the time to look at what needs to change. Accounts are in the past but you can still change them for the future.”
“We have looked at ways of cutting our costs down and The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme has given us the focus to help make the decision that we had previously discussed, to build a silage clamp. Although it may be a cost, the savings we make elsewhere as a result will pay for it within a couple of years. We will sit down around the table to justify spending any money and look at the benefits of it and look at the bottom line.”
“The succession workshop got us thinking about where we want to be in 10 years’ time and what we need to do to get to that point. We have a young workman on the farm, and we might look into the possibility of going into share farming with him, as well as opening a potential pig enterprise to give him a focus.”
“You are able to get bits out of every workshop, some of it we already knew but it was a reminder from a different angle, and it all certainly gives food for thought, particularly on why we do what we do. I would absolutely recommend the Programme, and have already mentioned it to others. It provides a fresh and different way of looking at things, and it is a nice chance to socialize through winter with people we wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
Liz Seed; Garstang
Liz and her husband, Richard, farm a flock of around 480 Texel cross’ and mules and a further 40 sheep as part of a pedigree flock. They also contract rear around 120 Holstein Friesian dairy heifers on a bed and breakfast basis and carry out some contracting work during the summer months. “We heard about the Programme both on social media and though mailings from the Rivers Trust. We were looking at ways we could improve the business and whether we should continue with what we are currently doing.”
“The workshop given by the agricultural consultants was really good. It got us looking at costs, particularly the hidden ones, and ways to improve our profitability without spending any more
money by getting more out of existing assets like the land and forage.”
“We are now looking at getting our wills written and planning for the future. There’s only the two of us on the farm and we hadn’t planned what happens when we’re not here.”
“We would recommend the Programme, we liked that the group was made of a mix of people, you can sometimes get just as much out of speaking to other people as you can from a
“The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme made us think about what we are doing, and not just plod along year after year. It helped us realise that while there are some areas we can improve on, there are many things that we are doing right. It’s nice to be reminded of the areas that are working well.”
Jane Stone; Skipton
Jane, Martin and their daughter Meg farm a suckler herd of beef Shorthorns and flock of Lleyn Sheep in West Yorkshire. They read about The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme in the Farmers Guardian. “We thought the Programme would have useful information, would provide a good opportunity to network and help us to find out what’s going on in the industry.”
“The Benchmarking was really helpful, to know you’re not the only ones who might be struggling. The Programme has certainly given us direction, the speakers were excellent, and the succession talk was good especially with both generations at the workshop.”
“The Programme has been well organised and gives a nice opportunity for farmers to communicate about things they wouldn’t otherwise discuss. It was nice that different generations attended from the other farms, as everyone has a different perspective and ideas, it meant there was no pressure. We’ve discovered some different options that we will look at to help make the business more viable.”
“We would absolutely recommend The Prince's Farm Resilience Programme to other farmers, some in our group travel about 2 hours to attend which shows how beneficial they must think it is.”