A drive to get more fresh talent into agriculture has been unveiled by Farming Minister Jim Paice.
The Future of Farming Group will look at how to break down barriers currently preventing more talented, entrepreneurial young people from making careers in farming.
Fewer young people are going into agriculture, while other related industries such as manufacturing are struggling to fill high-skilled posts in engineering and science.
Unveiling the initiative at a National Federation of Young Farmers event at Leeds Castle in Kent today, Jim Paice said:
“The future of farming is important - and it needs to be addressed right across the sector. As the Green Food Project has demonstrated, this industry offers an exciting and important career if we are to continue to feed ourselves sustainably.
“A career in farming isn’t only an option to people who come from farming families. British farming is highly skilled and if it is to maintain its high standards, we need to ensure that everyone who wants to go into the industry has the right skills, knowledge, and support to take on this challenge.”
The Future of Farming Group will be chaired by David Fursdon, current chair of the South West Rural and Farming Network and former President of the Country Land and Business Association.
David Fursdon said:
“The challenge of producing more food in this country in a sustainable, profitable and affordable way is huge. The farming industry will need all its skill and expertise to do so.
“Undoubtedly this will mean attracting new blood into agriculture as skilled workers, managers, tenants and owners, and adopting the best methods and business structures. This group will build on the excellent work which is already being carried out within the farming industry and also stimulate some news ideas as well.”
The recently-published Green Food Project identified that if the UK is to have a successful, innovative and ambitious farming sector going forward, it needs to ensure that there are suitable numbers of people of the right calibre entering the food industry. This includes entrants from disciplines such as science, research, technology, advisory services and business management.
The Future of Farming Group will examine issues affecting new entrants to the industry including:
- Future needs of the industry.
- Different entry routes, such as buying property, tenancy, share farming, contracting, farm management, employment, apprenticeship;
- Wider opportunities, such graduate schemes in science, engineering and research;
- The challenges facing new entrants such as lack of training, access to land, access to capital;
- The challenge facing employers in finding the right people, such as the image of the industry;
- How to attract more young people; and
- How to improve access to farming such as changes to structure, regulation, policy and training colleges.
The Future of Farming Group will be chaired by David Fursdon. Further details on composition and membership will be available in the autumn.
David Fursdon chairs the South West Rural and Farming Network and the South West Chamber of Rural Enterprise. Formerly President of the CLA (2005-7), he is now a Commissioner of the Crown Estate and a Trustee or Non-Executive on various Estates as well as running his own family rural business in Devon. He is on the Duchy of Cornwall rural committee and was formerly on the Affordable Rural Housing Commission. He is a qualified rural surveyor and agricultural valuer and has previously had jobs in the Civil Service and Education sector.