The ‘£60 Club’ is back – but this time without the financial incentive

The third tranche of the Business Development Groups (BDG) scheme is set to open for applications today.

The scheme has been popular with farmers and was jocularly dubbed ‘The £60 Club’.

From April 2018, the scheme will no longer pay for costs incurred by the farmer in attending BDG training events.

However, participants will be eligible to claim for costs associated with analytical services and an allowance of £600 remains available for hosting a training event.

Eight meetings a year

Business Development Groups brings together small groups of farmers to consider how knowledge, cooperation and investment can improve their farm businesses’ performance.

The Business Development Groups scheme was launched in November 2015 and today there are over 150 groups in operation.

Will you continue to go to BDG meetings without a financial incentive?

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Each group includes around 20 farmers of similar farming practices who meet up to eight times a year to focus on the topics agreed by the group.

The group is managed by a facilitator and activities include on-farm meetings, demonstrations and skills training.

How to apply

College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) director, Martin McKendry, has urged all eligible farmers to apply.

He said: “CAFRE launched the Business Development Groups scheme in November 2015 – and, to date, it has been a tremendous success. Feedback from farmers participating in the scheme has been extremely positive.

Farmers particularly enjoy learning from each other at training events held on their own farms, using the knowledge of their specialist facilitator to help them improve the efficiency of their businesses.

“The reopening of the scheme will allow those farmers, who have previously missed the opportunity to join a local BDG, to now submit an application.

“I would encourage farmers to apply to the scheme as local development groups are designed to assist farmers to come together with other farmers, to learn about and enhance their knowledge of business management, new technologies and innovative ways of working.”

Farmers who participate in the BDG scheme will be required to:

  • Attend eight training events each year;
  • Be willing to undertake physical and financial benchmarking;
  • Share their farm performance information with other group members;
  • And be willing to host a visit for the group, during which members will discuss technical performance and progress towards improving their business.

As farmers work towards meeting their business objectives, they will have the opportunity to accredit their work and gain a Level 3 qualification.

Applications to the Business Development Groups scheme and further information can be found online or by phone on: 028 9442 6790.

Knowledge Transfer, through Business Development Groups (BDG), is a scheme partly funded by the EU through the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.