The Farming Connect mentoring programme has been running for two years
and over 100 farmers and foresters have already used the service,
totalling over 750 hours of peer to peer support. To address growing
demand, the search is on for farmers who have experience of farm
diversification, family succession and health and safety in particular.

Candidates must have at least 15 years’ experience of running a farm
business in Wales have the necessary skills and expertise to act as
one-to-one mentors, supporting fellow farmers by asking insightful
questions and providing a sounding board to drive forward business and
personal development.

Once recruited, successful candidates will be responsible for mentoring
a wide range of individuals ranging from new entrants to established
farmers considering a significant change of direction such as
diversification, adding value, expansion and new enterprises.

A growing number of farmers are investigating diversification
opportunities to establish alternative income streams. New ventures have
historically centred on accommodation provision, tourism and adding
value to food products which are still lucrative options for many but
there is growing interest in niche sectors such as alternative livestock
(including deer, meat/dairy goats, dairy sheep), horticulture, bee
keeping. Farmers that have diversified into traditional or niche sectors
and are willing to share their experiences to support others are
strongly encouraged to apply to become a Farming Connect mentor.

Succession is another theme driving an increasing amount of farming
families to seek support. Farming Connect are looking for farmers who
have been through the succession process and would be willing to support
other families as they approach the task on their own farms.

We are actively looking to recruit mentors with a farm health and safety
specialism. These mentors will be able to provide guidance to other
farmers on adopting safer farm practices and will share their
experiences of assessing on-farm risks. Farm health and safety mentoring
will be offered as part of a package of services available via the Wales
Farm Safety Partnership. Farmers who have experience in ensuring high
levels of farm health and safety are urged to apply.

Einir Davies, Development & Mentoring Manager with Menter a Busnes,
which delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government, says
that aim of the mentoring programme is to offer a confidential service
which capitalises on the wealth of knowledge possessed by Welsh farmers
and share that knowledge to enable other farmers to benefit from their
life lessons.

“All applicants will be put through a rigorous recruitment process to
ensure that we get the best people to fulfil the role and have a
sufficiently diverse pool of experience and skills to match mentors and
mentees to best effect.

“You’ll need to be a good listener, have great communication skills,
the ability to ask insightful questions and be prepared to provide
honest, constructive feedback.

“Mentoring takes a very different approach to that of consultancy and
an effective mentor needs to possess several specialist skills in order
to nurture a successful relationship. Recipients of the service will
need to be able to voice their concerns freely and know that in return
they can expect to receive an impartial, independent and informed
perspective.

“Many mentors will be able to share their own personal experiences,
because hearing about the successes or difficulties faced by others
often helps people to have a fresh perspective on their own options,”
added Ms Davies.

In addition to providing a soundboard to ideas, mentors will facilitate
the process of decision making by suggesting other options that can be
based on their personal experiences or wider knowledge of the industry.

They can also signpost mentees to other contacts and networks for
personal and business development opportunities through the wider
Farming Connect programme and beyond.

If you are interested in applying for a role as a Farming Connect
mentor, you will find a detailed job specification and application form
at www.gov.wales/farmingconnect [2]. The closing date for receiving
applications is Friday, 27 April at 12.00.  Alternatively contact the
mentoring programme manager, Einir Davies on 01970 636297 or email:
einir.davies@menterabusnes.co.uk

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