by Gwyn Howells, HCC chief executive
WHEN Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) launched a project last November to help farmers overcome barriers to the electronic recording of sheep, the response was overwhelming.
Funded by the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013, farmers completed an online survey and registered for one of the 1,500 vouchers available. These vouchers entitled them to receive up to £500 in return for participating in the project, which will gather their experiences in the use of EID to help record their flock. All the vouchers were snapped up within a fortnight.
“HCC made it clear at the time that if more funding becomes available then those farmers who are on a waiting list would be first in line to receive vouchers,” said HCC corporate strategy and policy manager Julie Finch. “This is now the case.”
Uptake of EID recording amongst the 1,500 businesses participating in HCC’s RDP funded project on electronic recording of sheep flocks has been particularly good with well over half of the businesses already redeeming their voucher to commence recording.
The demand for the project has been unprecedented and has generated a waiting list of almost 300 businesses who have registered their interest in participating in the project, should further funds become available.
“The encouragingly high level of uptake in the early stages of this project means that we are now able to divert funds that had originally been assigned to delivering awareness raising activities to vouchers that will enable around 100 additional farmers to take part,” said Dr Finch. Farmers who are already on the project waiting list will now be contacted by HCC and invited to participate in the training on a first registered basis.
They will have the opportunity to receive £500 in order to supply information back to the project as part of the agreement.
Project participants who have not already redeemed their vouchers are also being encouraged to complete the process as soon as possible so that data can be gathered and any unclaimed funding can be reallocated to sheep farming businesses who are waiting to take part.