Massive boost for South West farmers

PUBLISHED: 15:11 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 01:14 16 June 2010

The livestock industry in the South West is to benefit from a £7.5 million ground-breaking support package to help it improve the productivity and welfare of farmed animals.

The livestock industry in the South West is to benefit from a £7.5 million ground-breaking support package to help it improve the productivity and welfare of farmed animals.

The South West Healthy Livestock Initiative (SWHLI) is a group of nine projects aimed at helping farmers improve their profits while increasing the health and welfare of their stock.

Announced today, the investment is being funded by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). It aims to increase the knowledge and skills of farmers in subjects such as genetics, nutrition, fertility, the environment and control & treatment of diseases.

The innovative programme involves farmers working with vets and other commissioning bodies, such as the Cornwall Development Company, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) and the National Animal Disease Information Service. Training, which will cover ruminants, pigs and poultry, will be delivered on farms rather than in the classroom. In all, more than 14, 000 training days will be delivered, some to small groups of farmers and others to larger numbers. Some will be based geographically and others on specific topics.

One of the projects will focus on TB. The South West Bovine Tuberculosis Farm Advisory Project will be hosted by the NFU. It will set up an advisory service with three specialist advisors to help farmers - either individually or in groups - to share and discuss information about how they can minimise the risks of TB and the damaging effects for their business.

Another project, the Small Pig Heard Health and Welfare Seminars, will help people with smaller enterprises by helping them with advice and practical help to develop their businesses.

The announcement of this new funding follows detailed planning over many months, with the SW RDA working with an independent cross-organisational group of national, regional and local representatives from farming and livestock sectors. This means the package of support has been specifically designed by industry experts to meet the needs of the sector.

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