Press release

A blackberry is a phone not a fruit, according to majority of young people

Examining issues affecting new entrants to the farming industry.

When asked what a “blackberry” is, 82 per cent of people aged 16-24 instantly thought of a mobile phone rather than a fruit according to new figures published today.

Results from an online YouGov poll also showed 55 per cent of the UK population haven’t been to a farm in the past ten years and when asked to select from a list of professions, only 11 per cent saw farming as the career they’d most like to work in, compared to the 51 per cent who wanted to work as teachers, doctors or lawyers.

These figures come on the day Farming Minister David Heath meets with five young people who won the chance to talk about the issues facing their future in farming. They won the chance after entering a Twitter competition on @Defragovuk by tweeting what they see as the key barriers facing them.

The five winners of the competition are:

  • Emily Scott, who is studying for a Masters at the University of Cambridge, looking at anaerobic digestion as a way to manage waste in the agricultural supply chain.
  • Becca Watkins, who is studying Biological Sciences at the University of Oxford.
  • Alex Stevens, a Politics graduate and has spent time working in Local Government and in the delivery of Rural Development Programme for England and works on his family farm.
  • Stephen Jones, who is currently studying for a PhD in crop science at the University of Nottingham.
  • Phillipp Steadman, a student at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

David Heath’s meeting is part of the Future of Farming Group which has been set up to examine issues affecting new entrants to the industry.

Mr Heath said:

There’s a huge level of disengagement from the countryside which prevents gifted young people from grasping the opportunities it offers.

I want more young people to think about farming as a thriving, cutting-edge industry that values the bright ideas talented young people can bring. That’s why it’s so important to speak about the barriers they face to make sure that we get the best into the industry.

The group is led by David Fursdon, Chairman of the South West Rural and Farming Network and former President of the Country Land and Business Association.

Reporting in the summer, the group will examine the issues affecting new entrants to the industry such as the future workforce, the different entry routes into farming and the challenges facing new entrants such as lack of training and access to capital.

The group today also launched a call for evidence asking people to give them their views on getting forward-thinking graduates into the industry. The results will be used by the Group to make recommendations about how to make the industry more accessible to young people.

David Fursdon said:

We need the brightest and best to take agriculture seriously so that we get more highly-skilled people into the industry.

But it’s crucial as well that we make sure there are effective mechanisms in place that make it possible for young people to get into the industry and be supported when they start their careers.

The call for evidence will run from 7 March - 5 April 2013. It is open to the public and can be accessed via this link: http://bit.ly/WLXdXs

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2114 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th - 11th February 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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