National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

Future land use

A summary of the findings from the Future Land Use survey 

In June 2021, the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) launched a survey, ‘Future Land Use’. Funded by Defra and led by the NFYFC and Rose Regeneration, the survey provided young people living and working in rural areas, next generation farmers and land managers with an opportunity to share their views on the future of land use, now and into the future.

This report highlights the key issues facing young people living and working in rural areas and their views of what their future holds in terms of the evolving debate about land use.

The survey had 10 introductory questions including detail about the individuals and their situation. Respondents were then invited, in return for the opportunity to enter a competition for a prize, to answer a further 19 questions exploring their views in more detail.

Summary highlights

The most significant motivation for respondents thinking about land use was food production (40%).

39% of respondents were uncertain about the future in terms of the seven-year transition away from EU-based system to England schemes.

A slim majority (53%) of respondents felt they understood the proposed changes in land use. Approaching 60% of respondents were unsure of how the policy changes would affect them.

The three most significant factors which should influence future land use were identified as food production, biodiversity and conservation, and net zero/carbon capture.

In terms of sustainable land use, respondents identified improved farm productivity and investment through grants as top priorities.

In relation to skills Innovation, grants, efficiency and diversification were the most popular responses identified.

Over 70% of respondents thought it would be difficult or impossible for new entrants to enter the farming industry.

Almost 50% of respondents felt that the public had a low regard for farmers and agricultural production.

43% of respondents identified ongoing labour supply challenges.

Only a third (32%) of respondents felt that there are relevant training and development opportunities across England for people wanting to get into farming or land management

The biggest challenges and opportunities facing farming were identified as respectively: increasing efficiency, collaborating, diversification and adapting to climate change.

Respondents felt that the greatest impact of Brexit and Covid-19 was to put greater emphasis on the environmental management and animal welfare track record of farmers.

The greatest future policy priorities identified for land management were: food security, balancing environmental and food production costs and the opportunity for respondents to both live and work in the countryside

Conclusions

The results from this survey show strong linkages on key issues to the 2020 survey which focused on the personal experiences of young people from farming backgrounds living in rural England. It has provided a clear set of perspectives about the concerns, enthusiasms and thoughts of a very impressive cohort of young people.

As a consequence of the nature of farming, which for many of our respondents is part of a pattern of lived experience from a very young age (in many farming families, farming and wider lifestyles are indivisible), the level of insight from a group with an average age of 23 is astounding. Their perspective is perhaps best encompassed in one comment by the individual who described the future as – “Exciting but frightening.” 

This cohort of farmers facing a national pandemic for the first time in 100 years and a new territorial basis for planning the first time in 50 years are facing more change, alongside the global shock of rising inflation than any group in living memory. Their views and priorities, looking through the lens of this survey and the one which preceded it are clear and involve:

1. A commitment to food production, within progressive environmental standards

2. A concern for food security

3. An acknowledgement of huge barriers to access to farming for new entrants.

Download the report here.  



Agriculture and Rural Issues Representing Young FarmersLearning resourcesClimate Change GuideKuhn podcastThe Countryside CodeFood and Farming EducationFit for Future Business GuideFuture land use survey

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