SHARE farming has created opportunities for a Carmarthenshire farm owner and a new entrant.
Carine Kidd’s family has farmed Glanmynys near Llandovery for generations. She was keen to secure the farm’s future, share the responsibility for the day to day running of the farm, and allow the farm to continue to develop.
A share farming agreement offered a solution. The opportunity was advertised through solicitor, Nerys Llewelyn Jones, of Agri Advisor, and through Farming Connect’s Venture, a scheme designed to pair up new entrants with landowners.
The result is the agreement Carine now has in place with Peredur Owen, a farmer’s son from north Wales.
He had been working for Dunbia but wanted to get a foothold in farming; the scale and potential to farm at Glanmynys, which extends to approximately 500 acres, provided an exciting opportunity.
Initially, Agri Advisor and Farming Connect’s Venture assisted the pair with the letter of interest, business planning, and interview stages.
Carine says she appreciated the fact that the process could be completed in a very tight timeframe. “There were opportunities for us to get to know each other and it was good that it was done in a very tight timeframe,’’ she recalls.
After recommendations and hearing her speak at Farming Connect meetings, Carine chose to work with Ms Llewelyn Jones as her legal adviser.
Carine had met Wendy Jenkins, Farm Business Consultant at CARA Wales, some years before when creating a farm business plan with Farming Connect in order to qualify for Farming Connect’s Farm Advisory Service, during which she gave technical advice.
Venture provided funding for business planning and legal guidance. “Nerys and Wendy helped us put together a mutually beneficial plan of action,’’ says Carine.
“The agreement was tailored specifically to our situation. Share farming is one term that covers many different business agreements.’’
Peredur says the support provided by Venture was important to the process. “Neither of us had entered into an agreement like this before. Venture made it possible to have the best expert help available to produce a realistic and effective contract.’’
The pair started farming together in November 2018 and they now run 700 Welsh and Aberfield x Welsh breeding ewes and 150 followers, 25 Simmental-cross suckler cows and 40 Angus-cross youngstock. The aim is to grow grass efficiently and convert good quality forage into liveweight. “We know that the next few years will be challenging,’’ says Peredur, who aims to reinvest any profit he makes in buying his own stock.
“We are continuing the good work that was previously done and looking to the future to expand both the flock and the herd and to make ourselves sustainable in a world without subsidies.’’
Both he and Carine already had a close association with Farming Connect, through participating in its Skills and Training programme.
Glanmynys had also been successful in securing a Farm Business Grant to buy sheep handling equipment, an investment which was an added attraction for Peredur when he applied for the share farming opportunity.
He had participated in the Farming Connect Master Grass course, and now, Prosper from Pasture, two initiatives which equip him with important specialist knowledge to inform plans to improve grassland at Glanmynys.
“Those courses were a huge help in assisting our plans for adopting a system of rotational grazing and for operating a low input system that maximises output from forage,’’ says Peredur.
“It introduced us to the Farmax software for producing feed budgets.’’
Although Carine had regularly soil sampled and was confident of the farm’s soil nutrient status, they made use of Farming Connect support for further sampling earlier this year.
Peredur acknowledges that it is important to make the agreement work and that it must be flexible and to not rush change.
Key to their successful working relationship is a weekly management meeting and a monthly financial meeting. Although Carine and Peredur talk about day to day issues during the course of the working day, they agree that a structured meeting is necessary too.
They talk about things when they pass in the yard or when they are doing a job together, but a structured meeting gives both parties a better understanding of what is going on, they say.
They both believe that the support provided by Farming Connect to farmers and foresters in Wales is extremely beneficial.
“It is a very good scheme. Farmers in Wales need to make good use of it. I have friends in England who can’t believe there is so much support available for farmers here in Wales,’’ says Peredur.
He describes the share farming opportunity he has secured as “close to perfect’’. “I have been lucky because I had never expected to be farming on this scale at the age of 26. If you are desperate to get into farming, when opportunities become available through Venture, it might mean accepting something that’s not perfect to begin with to get a foothold and to then work at making it perfect.’’
Aftercare provided by Venture has included workshops attended by others who have also gone through the process.
They both agree that meeting other people in similar situations highlighted that the model can cover a wide range of scenarios.
Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Welsh Government.