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“Focusing on the use of the latest knowledge, finding innovative efficient ways of working and continuous professional development are some of the most important and significant contributors to help us ensure our farm businesses continue to be competitive and productive,” Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said when she launched two new Animal Health & Welfare and ICT skills development programmes at this year’s Winter Fair in Llanelwedd.

The Cabinet Secretary was speaking to stakeholders and industry representatives from all the key agricultural sectors in Wales at a special event today (Monday, 26 November) held in the Lantra building, Avenue K at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd.

Delivered by the farmer’s veterinarian, through the Lantra’s Skills Development programme, livestock farmers registered with Farming Connect will from the new year onwards, be encouraged to complete fully funded short training courses linked to the Welsh Government’s animal health and welfare priorities.

Each course will cover an introduction to animal health planning to prevent disease, disease transmission, clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control alongside considering the economic impact that disease has on a business. The training, developed jointly by Farming Connect and the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS), will be delivered by veterinary practices throughout Wales from early next year. It will include modules on: countering antibiotic and anthelmintic resistance; animal health planning, bovine TB eradication; Johne’s disease control; lameness reduction; reducing mastitis and lambing losses.

The training is designed to complement the support for animal health planning that is being made available to dairy, beef and sheep farmers through the RDP Strategic Initiative. The first window for applications for the AHDB Dairy-led scheme for dairy farmers, HerdAdvance, was opened by the Cabinet Secretary at the Welsh Dairy Show on October 30th. The equivalent for beef and sheep producers, led by the HCC, will be opened at the Winter Fair.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “For many farmers, this training will be critical to them learning how to identify, control and eradicate disease. This will not only improve animal health and welfare but also the economic resilience of their business which can, as many farmers know to their cost, so easily be decimated by disease.

“By providing training on areas ranging from farm biosecurity and the importance of animal health planning to specific disease and husbandry issues, we can support farmers to move away from fire-fighting by enabling them to implement proactive, effective health planning”.

The Cabinet Secretary also launched a new fully funded ICT training programme, which will also be delivered by Lantra through Farming Connect’s Lifelong Learning and Development programme.

Farmers and foresters with little or no IT skills can attend a two-hour session per week for six weeks, after which each learner is expected to have the confidence and knowledge to make use of computer-based activities, relative to their business needs. In addition, learners will have the option of receiving two home visits from an IT tutor, which can cover a range of topics focusing on specific problems or weaknesses identified in an advance short telephone assessment.

Individuals with more advanced IT skills will be encouraged to apply for fully funded IT training workshops, held throughout Wales, when the focus will be on business development through topics including social media; internet security; online benchmarking, banking and tax or VAT services; drone technology and GPS and precision farming.

The Cabinet Secretary said: “The two fully-funded and very accessible training programmes I am announcing today, will help improve the economic resilience of businesses by helping farmers remain productive, competitive and sustainable. I urge all farmers to take up the opportunity and access both programmes.”

Farmers and foresters applying for this training will need to be registered with Farming Connect. All courses completed will be automatically recorded into clients’ CPD records on the Business Wales BOSS website, and receive a Lantra certificate of attendance.

For further information on the AH&S programme click here, or for information on the ICT training programme click here, or call the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813 to register interest and receive guidance on how to apply. 

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