Minister launches review initiative to attract young talent to farming
A drive to get more young people working in food and farming has been kicked off today by farming minister David Heath.
Farming and other related industries such as agricultural engineering and science will need to fill thousands more high-skilled posts in coming years.
This is because of the huge potential for growth caused by a rising global population, increasing demand for Western-style diets around the world and the need to reduce the environmental footprint of food production.
Together with the agriculture industry, the Future of Farming review will investigate how to improve access for talented, entrepreneurial young people and how to make it a more attractive career choice.
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As part of the drive to hear the views of as many people as possible, Mr Heath is launching a twitter competition for five young people to meet him and discuss the issues.
Ahead of speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference tomorrow, Mr Heath said: "With a rising world population, Britain has a massive opportunity to grow and export more food, and to do so sustainably. So we need to encourage new blood into the industry.
"I'm not just talking about giving people more access to land or getting them on production lines, but allowing youngsters to embrace new ideas and technology for rewarding, well-paid careers."
The group will be led by Devon-based David Fursdon, chairman of the South West Rural and Farming Network, former president of the Country Land and Business Association and former WMN columnist.
Combining expertise inside and outside farming, it will tour the country and seek ideas and views from a wide cross section of the agricultural sector from farming to science.
Mr Fursdon said: "Producing food more sustainably is a huge challenge and we can only hope to meet it by having the right people entering the industry.
"To make this happen, we want to listen to young people's experiences to make sure the right people are entering the industry and have the support to establish their businesses.
"I'm looking forward to pushing on with this work and building on the work already being carried out within industry to come up with some new ideas."
The Future of Farming Group will examine issues affecting new entrants to the industry, including:
Future workforce and skills needs of the industry.
Different entry routes into farming, such as buying property, tenancy, share farming, contracting, farm management, employment, apprenticeship.
Wider opportunities that are offered in agriculture, such as graduate schemes in science, engineering and research.
The challenges facing new entrants such as a lack of training, access to land, access to capital.
The challenge facing employers in finding the right people.
For the twitter competition to meet Mr Heath, tweet @Defragovuk with what you see as the key barriers facing your future in farming, using #meetfm.
All entries must be tweeted by January 24. Mr Heath will then review all the responses and invite five individuals to meet him at the Houses of Parliament to feed their ideas into the review.