E-commerce course aims to improve farmers' buinsess acumen

Hundreds of farmers across the country are signing up to an e-commerce course to improve their business skills.

Hundreds of farmers across the country are signing up to an e-commerce course to improve their business skills.

250 West Midlands farmers are the latest to enroll on the Farm Connections scheme, which provides software training, laptops and "beef enterprise software".

The training will allow farmers to view a range of data including information on carcass quality, the latest market statistics and consumer trends.

The course aims to enable farmers to improve their business skills in the face of subsidy cuts and increased global competitiveness.

With the software, they will be able to forecast demand and plan deliveries, find information about herd management, and get access to online discounts and services such as e-form filling.

Currently, only 20% to 30% of farmers hold farm accounts on computers, and only 50% are able to receive e-mail.

Peter Ford, 60, and wife, Helen, 55, who farm 240-acres around Prees, near Whitchurch, have enrolled for training.

Mr Ford, who has farmed for 45 years, said, "The way forward is obviously with computers and the internet,"

Mrs Ford said, "At the moment, Peter records everything in a book but he will find using a computer very adaptable for gathering information such as cattle movements."

The course is a partnership between Sainsbury's, meat processor Anglo Beef Processors (ABP), and the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF), an organisation set up to help the British red meat industry recapture and maintain a leading position in the marketplace.

It is part-funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands' Rural Regeneration Zone (RRZ),

Ian Edwards, Head of Rural Partnerships at Advantage West Midlands, said, "It is important that our region's farmers are not excluded from advantages open to all other small businesses and it is vital that they develop a competitive edge. We believe that this project will help with that."

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