Nick Nichols, Rhys Richards and David Nicols.

NEARLY a year into a partnership agreement, and 28-year-old Rhys Richards is proving how collaboration between farmers can be beneficial to all involved.

Rhys was employed as an agricultural contractor after periods of working on farms but his ambition was to get a foothold on the farming ladder.

With assistance from Farming Connect’s ‘Venture’ initiative, he has achieved that goal, farming in partnership with brothers Nick and David Nichols, who run 60 Limousin-cross and Simmental-cross suckler beef cows on an organic system at 320-acre Gwernant Farm near Rhydlewis, Llandysul.

The brothers are both in their late sixties and wanted reduce their day-to-day farming commitments.

Rhys, Nick and David had registered with ‘Venture’ – a Farming Connect programme that matches landowners and farmers with those seeking a new route into the industry – and were supported through the process of establishing a partnership agreement for the livestock element of the business.

“We received funding to be guided through the process by John Crimes of CARA Wales and for a solicitor to draw up the partnership agreement which was a very extensive piece of paperwork,’’ Nick explains.

“It simplified the whole process and the financial assistance we received was very welcome.’’

Rhys has now been farming at Gwernant for nearly a year and says it is the best decision he has ever made.

“It is so difficult to get a foothold in farming, I’m really grateful of this opportunity.’’

The agreement provides Rhys with a house on the farm and an income and, within five years of the agreement starting, he will have accrued ownership of a percentage of the livestock. For the brothers, it means they can delegate many of their responsibilities to Rhys.

“We didn’t want to sell the farm but we were finding the physical work more difficult. This agreement has taken the pressure off us both physically and mentally,’’ says David.

“We are delighted to give a new entrant an opportunity to farm. Rhys has a vested interest in the end product so there is an incentive for him to run the herd well.’’

Rhys is delivering on expectations. “We had an excellent calving this spring with no losses,’’ says Nick.

The agreement has meant a cut in income for the brothers but in return Rhys does most of the physical work and the paperwork. “It seems a reasonable swap to us,’’ reasons Nick.

The Venture programme has attracted more than 170 applicants since it was first launched in December 2015. To date, 29 matches have been identified, 7 brand new joint ventures have been established and a new autumn recruitment campaign is set to boost that number further. Over the next few weeks a series of Venture workshops are taking place to provide information about the key stages of setting up a joint venture, whether it’s a suitable option for you and above all, meet potential business partners in the area.

Once you register with Venture and attend a workshop, Farming Connect is able to provide tailored support to both parties through a range of knowledge transfer and training activities, together with confidential advisory and mentoring services, many of which are either fully funded or subsidised.

All the autumn workshops will begin at 6:00pm and finish at 9:30pm.
· Tuesday 26 September – Brecon Castle Hotel, Castle Square, Brecon, Powys, LD3 9DB
· Wednesday 27 September – Welshpool Livestock Market, Buttington Cross, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 8SR
· Tuesday 3 October – Llety Cynin, Llangynin Road, St Clears, Carmarthenshire, SA33 4JR
· Wednesday 4 October – Feathers Hotel, Alban Square, Aberaeron, Ceredigion, SA46 0AQ
· Tuesday 10 October – Celtic Royal Hotel, Bangor St, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1AY
· Wednesday 11 October – Ruthin Livestock Market, Parc Glasdir, Ruthin, Denbighshire, LL15 1PB

All places must be booked in advance by calling Gwen Davies on 01745 770039 or email

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