A new report sharing insights on how new entrants and next generation farmers can overcome key barriers to working in the industry has been released at the start of National Young Farmers’ Week 2023 (9-13 October).
The Sustainable Futures report, which has been published by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC), supported by Defra and Tama, is in direct response to NFYFC’s Route to Success survey that was released earlier this year. Survey findings showed more than 70% of respondents thought it would be difficult or impossible for new entrants to enter the industry.
The new report provides counter arguments to the survey results, sharing positive examples of ways young farmers can progress their careers – as well as suggestions on how the industry needs to change to meet their needs.
Insights include those from George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA), and Cameron Hughes, Land Use Policy Advisor at the CLA, as well as pieces from Oxbury Bank, Harper Adams University, the NSA, the NFU and the National Parks Partnerships, to name a few.
In the report, Mr Hughes addresses the key issues around access to land. More than 75% of respondents to the Route to Success survey said land opportunities were a key barrier for new entrants and next generation farmers.
“Food production will always be a primary concern for farmers, as evidenced by the Route to Success survey question on personal motivation. However, like it or not, attitudes have shifted in recent decades, with an increasing focus on how agriculture interacts with the environment and climate.
“We know that access to land is one of the main barriers young farmers are faced with. For young farmers looking to take on a tenancy, an understanding of how the management of the holding is going to help the landlord achieve their environmental and climate objectives is likely to be vital.
“From a marketing or story telling perspective, farmers should be exploring how to not only highlight the nutritional value of the food produced, but also how their management of the farmland used to produce the food has created additional benefits for society.”
With concerns around skills and training – especially around soil health and environmental management – TIAH and Lantra both provide guidance for young farmers in the report. Feedback from the Route to Success survey and dedicated focus groups are informing Lantra’s future training on soil health.
“There are a number of farmers who are reducing fixed costs and future proofing their farm businesses by improving soil health, which a wider network can benefit from. I believe Lantra can play a part in facilitating the sharing of this experience, which could take the business down a new and exciting path.
“Whilst the demand for online training increased during COVID, this follow on research shows there is still a place for learning about practical topics - out in the field, in a group setting. This valuable insight from NFYFC members will inform Lantra’s future training, including positive management of the soil beneath our feet.”
The report is being shared at the start of National Young Farmers’ Week to highlight the opportunities available in the sector and the actions needed to breakdown the barriers for new entrants.
“Collaboration is key to achieving our goals and I’m proud that so many industry partners have joined forces to support NFYFC’s Sustainable Futures Report, which is being shared at the start of National Young Farmers’ Week, supported by Tama and Defra. The reports’ insights offer solutions and hope to new entrants and next generation farmers at a time of extreme challenge and change.
“One of the most effective ways of achieving a sustainable future is positive collaboration, making optimum use of land, supporting nature, acquiring skills and running efficient, viable rural businesses. I hope this report helps to inspire and provides actions for a positive future.”
Tama is the official National Young Farmers’ Week 2023 sponsor and supporters of the report. Warren Tatton, Tama UK Commercial Manager, said:
“The farming industry has never faced more challenges. Higher business costs in almost every area of production, increased legislation and paperwork from Brexit, pressure from buyers to lower margins and continued post-Covid manufacturing delays are just a few of the issues that face farmers in 2023.
“As farmers ourselves, Tama understands the difficulties that are being faced worldwide but specifically in the UK. That’s why gathering as much information as possible about these challenges is crucial because that is how we, together, will find the solutions. This report helps to show young farmers how they can tackle the industry challenges and what we – the industry - need to do to help them achieve success.”
The full Sustainable Futures report is available to download here.