Huntingdon has been chosen as the East Anglian base for a major new programme being led by The Prince of Wales’s Countryside Fund.

Endorsed by Prince Charles, the charity's patron, the farm resilience programme will provide free practical support and one-to-one guidance to 20 small dairy, livestock and mixed family farm businesses around Huntingdonshire.

The Prince's Countryside Fund, which aims to improve the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life, is leading the £1.5 million, five-year initiative to help tackle some of the biggest challenges being faced by small farm businesses across the UK.

Anne-Marie Hamilton, farmer and Hunts Post columnist, and David Morgan, who runs the charity, Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group, have been advising on the programme and conducted the research which resulted in Huntingdon being selected.

Both attended the launch of the programme in July, where the Prince of Wales said: "The small farms which have been such an integral part of Britain's landscape for thousands of years are under threat. My farm resilience programme is designed to respond to those threats by helping up to 300 farm businesses. It is the most far-reaching programme ever offered by my countryside fund."

Mr Morgan said: "Three years of declining prices mean that average farm incomes have dropped below £20,000 for the first time since 2007, and almost one third of farming families are below the official poverty line.

"This free programme is designed to provide small farms with new skills to help them build more resilient businesses for the future. A thriving and diverse farming sector is critical to the health of our local rural economies."

On Tuesday, December 13, a special introductory session will be taking place at the River Mill, in School Lane, Eaton Socon. This is an opportunity for farm businesses to find out more about the programme and meet their local coordinator.

Anyone who would like to attend the session, or would like to find out more about the programme, can contact madeleine.fitzgerald@bitc.org.uk or call 020 7566 8797.

You can also register on www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk.