The Young Entrants Support Scheme (YESS) - which was launched by the Rural Affairs Minister during last year’s Royal Welsh show - meets a commitment within the One Wales programme for government to support new entrants to farming.
During its first year, YESS received 124 applications for support from young entrants. As of the 12 July 2010, 82 agreement letters have been issued. This amounts to a committed grant spend of £1,129,044 to be supported by private sector leverage amounting to £1,799,044.
Current projections show that the YESS’s first year budget of £1.75m will be fully spent.
Speaking at the Royal Welsh show in Llanelwedd, the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said:
“This is the first year of the Young Entrants Support Scheme and I am greatly encouraged by the number, variety and quality of the applications received.
“Successful applications have come from all parts of Wales and from across all the major agricultural sectors.
“This reflect the ambitions and ingenuity of the younger generation of farmers in Wales, whether that be through the introduction of new farming methods adopted from overseas, or the move to contract rearing to help maintain small family farming enterprises.
“Although the main recipients of support through this scheme are young people within the rural community, it also looks to attract and support young people from outside our traditional rural communities.
“I look forward to meeting some of the successful applicants over the summer and visiting their successful projects.”
In addition to grants, the package of assistance available under the YESS scheme includes access to mentoring from experienced, successful farmers. Matching mentors with successful applicants will be the next phase of the scheme. Applicants, both present and future, will also be able to access advice and guidance on any aspect of the scheme through the Young Business Enabler Service. This service will work in partnership with Wales Young Farmers Club (YFC) to further develop the Database of Opportunity and provide a hub for advice and guidance.
The Minister said:
“My commitment to helping our young people will not waver and I hope that the industry will also continue to look into ways of encouraging young entrants into farming and support the scheme by coming forward to register as mentors.”
Over and above supporting new businesses, the YESS scheme has also worked to address some of the major issues relating to succession on family farms. The majority partnership option allows young entrants to apply whilst retaining other family members within the farming partnership.
Elin Jones added:
“This approach allows for a more gradual transfer of business capital assets from one generation to the next, whilst at the same time increasing the young entrant’s share of business profits and making them the lead decision maker of the holding. The approach benefits the sustainability of the business in the long-term.”
A full review of the scheme will be undertaken at the end of the summer so that any changes which would lead to an improvement in the scheme can be made.