CUMBRIAN farmers to benefit from £1.5 million for a second year thanks to The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme.

Small farm businesses across Cumbria are being invited to take part in the second year of the highly successful scheme, run by The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Proven to help small farms improve their way of working, the programme will provide free business support, skills and planning tuition, and one-to-one guidance to 20 small livestock and mixed family farm businesses across Cumbria.

Applications open on September 1, and close on October 31.

Feedback from participating farms has been positive, with farmers who have completed the programme feeling far more confident about the future of their farm business.

NFU Kendal group secretary Chris James said: "Family farms are the heart of the Cumbrian countryside and their health is vital for rural communities. "This additional support to help improve the sustainability of farm businesses is most welcome."

The programme aims to tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by small farm businesses across the UK.

Developed off the back of The Prince’s Dairy Initiative, which has helped strengthen the UK dairy supply chain since 2012, the £1.5million programme will support up to 300 farm businesses this year.

Farmers will be given the skills to evaluate their viability and make informed decisions about the future by using the Business Health Check Tool.

The programme also brings together like minded family farm enterprises in local networks so they can review their current activity, and identify opportunities and improvements that can be made on-farm to build resilience.

Claire Saunders, director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: "We are thrilled to be bringing The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme to more locations this year, building on the excellent response to its first year.

"The skills training and expert advice provided by the programme help farmers to cope with the many challenges that their businesses face, and allow them to plan for the future more confidently."