Giving your food and farming career a lift

24.10.13 Giving your food & farming career a lift

A fantastic level of participation for this discussion which ought to update on the opportunities for youngsters and new entrants looking to enter into the food and farming industries. Alongside NFYFC, Fresh Start and Lantra, new faces on the scene this year include Bright Crop and the Henry Plumb Foundation. Awareness and collaboration not duplication were the two main talking points. There are lots of opportunities for careers but they are not always advertised and promoted strongly. Young farmers clubs were seen as integral to the fabric of rural communities and activities. Core skills needed for a career in the industry, irrespective of a formal education or not, were cited as business acumen, patience, enthusiasm, risk management and innovation.

The discussion held on Thursday 24th October 2013 was a discussion about the wide range of food and farming careers, and the ways to get a leg up into the industry. It generated a total of 740 tweets on the topic from 151 participants. These included farmers, agri-food businesses, rural advisors, land agents, lawyers, journalists, academics and NFU officeholders, as well as members of the general public.

How are you involved with food & farming? Are you farming or involved with education, training or promotion?

  • I am a lecturer in Agronomy related subjects at Walford and North Shropshire College
  • I work for NFYFC as Agriculture and Rural Affairs Officer
  • Student studying agriculture at Bangor university
  • Nuffield Scholar here. Brought me on no end but admittedly from a very low base. Would recommend it. Happy to help
  • I’m an previous college student who moved to Kent in search of a dream career In farming
  • Small family run farm supplying milk to Waitrose for 14 years. Moved farm from Oxford to Dorset 3 years ago
  • Arable farmer, agri business consultant and industry ambassador for ag
  • I’m a web editor for the NFU & amongst other things I am involved with @studentfarmer I graduated from @RoyalAgUni last year
  • I’m a first time rare breed pig rearer, as well as studying Agri-business at Harper Adams.
  • Starting PHD at Hertfordshire studying phoma stem canker in OSR
  • Cow man/farm manager type guy, jumped in at the deep end < can’t recommend that enough. 10 years in the dairy sector (king of all sectors)
  • I graduated from Harper, qualified as a Chartered Surveyor and now work for NFYFC always wanted to help farmers
  • Just starting job search since moving back to uk from Irl. Don’t own a farm. Currently writing my MSc organic farming thesis.
  • I’m agronomist , used to run farm& food consultancy before that worked in pest control with food and before that family farm
  • Mainly the pig sector directly, dairy indirectly.
  • I’m an agricultural journalist – striving to report what farmers need to know (which isn’t always what they want to hear)
  • Land Agent working for @CLASouthEast protecting/promoting/lobbying/entertaining land owners & rural businesses

Where do you go for help, Training or information about a farming career? Which organisations are you aware of?

  • I believe Lantra and colleges are good place to start
  • Currently massive help through my university! Currently pursuing a career in genetics consultancy too
  • Pick a good boss and try hard for him, he’ll give you all the help you need, don’t waste time with uni IME too laborious.
  • I went to uni late – I looked at uni websites, visited them, asked a MOUNTAIN of questions & spent lots of time with farmers
  • What is confusing is that there isn’t a one stop shop for new entrants wanting to find info
  • Have been invited to the local comprehensive careers evening to discuss animal/agricultural careers. Encouraging to be asked
  • Take a look at #StudentFarmer we get out & meet loads of people working in ag to show the variety & oppotunity in farming
  • Joining a Young Farmers’ Club is a good intro to industry. Great for networking and building connections
  • So many great ppl & orgs working in food! Big issue we’re addressing in fact is making sure people know about each other!
  • Mentoring or work experience is invaluable. Learn +earn from others. So proud to be a recipient of Lord plumb foundation
  • Industry peers, colleagues and associates. Industry publications journals
  • We offer farm visits to local schools&groups so they can learn about how the farm works and where their food comes from.
  • Fresh Start provides business training for entrepreneurs via its academies – specialist academies on Dairy, Uplands and Pigs!
  • Twitter is a good place to learn!
  • I have been @STEMnet Ambassador for years now, get into lots of schools, careers fairs etc proud to have joined Bright Crop
  • Many schemes only open to younger new farmers. Under 35. Less choice for older entrants.
  • Twitter source of all sorts of ideas, inspiration + advice. Was sceptical for long time. Not now.

Have you heard about the opportunities of doing a Nuffield Scholarship?

  • Yes but sounds scary! Does it require taking a year out? Can people find that time?
  • Yes, and reports are another great source of current info on progressive farming.
  • Have heard about Nuffield scholarship and in past looked at profiles/projects of some of the participants
  • Have thought about doing a Nuffield as heard such good feedback,
  • Have read some Nuffield reports on e.g. mutton sales, drainage etc. Not sure I’d have the time to do it (the traveling)
  • Big regret of mine was to not apply to #nuffield would have loved it. I love the non academic scholarly slant = accessible
  • Yes, and what an opportunity for the person awarded the scholarship and for UK as a whole
  • Nuffield scholars provide a global network for individuals who want to dig deep into a topic. Def worth thinkin about
  • Does seem a great opportunity to further your knowledge
  • Nuffield is more than just the topic. The real strength is the network of inspirational people

Are you involved with the Young Farmers Clubs, YFC? Were you aware of all these things the NFYFC do for new entrants and those already in farming?

  • Was involved in YFC. Still support them in anything they do
  • Best years of my life. Greysouthern YFC then #cumbria County Chairman, taught me everything I know
  • Yes! Have been a member for 13 years + now at the top. My feet are very much at grassroots + seek opportunities for my members
  • Joined YFC when I was on placement, been in three clubs, tried everything I could, now work for them best thing I ever did!
  • NFYFC has approx 25,000 members across England & Wales, incl associates too (aged over 26). Over 600 clubs to choose from.
  • Former Program Sec & Chairman of Pleasley YFC, Derbyshire. Still involved with club
  • Fantastic organisation. Met Jim through YFC, our son is now an active member & I’m VP
  • I went a couple of times but often asked how big the home farm was…and there wasn’t a home farm to speak of!
  • Life time of skills learnt.Stock judging, Public Speaking to name a few!
  • Couldn’t agree more. I wasn’t from farming stock but was welcomed with open arms

Are the Agric colleges providing a good service? What are you studying now that might surprise ‘established farmers’?

  • Agri college is okay but females need to be prepared for the male only attitude and ignorance from my experience
  • One thing Ag Colleges doing this year is to deliver GCSE Maths and English to those students who didn’t get a Ç at school.
  • Could you hand over the running of an av UK farm to an av UK graduate?
  • Hadlow College has just opened a free rural secondary college focusing on countryside management
  • Some of the recent graduates coming out of the engineering courses at Harper Adams are demonstrating big kit worldwide
  • Lack of courses available for young people on IW means they have to wait til/go at 16 to mainland colleges
  • Now studying MSc organic farming with SRUC. Aberdeen, another fabulous college

What food and farming skills do you think will be vital in the future?

  • Excel and computer programming…
  • It’s important we have MANY farmers on the land in the future & related industries. Diversity of skills in hands of many key
  • Business acumen, know your business inside out know your product, your own capabilities and know your industry
  • Open-mindedness, enthusiasm, innovation, patience and pride
  • As life expectancy increases, farming families are going to have to co-exist/work together with all generations
  • Labour, legislation and environment are factors which affect all agri business around the world, extreme weather a big issue
  • Always keep learning and don’t be fearful of change and never to afraid to ask
  • Risk management and resilience planning in an ever changing marketplace, compounded by extreme weather patterns.
  • Politics, economics, socio-factors, technology, environment, legal…all round leadership

Simon Haley, Reading Agricultural Consultants, and Alan Spedding, 25 October 2013

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