A new study from Barclays Bank has found that Britain could be on the verge of a farming crisis unless more young people are inspired to enter agricultural jobs. This is supported by the UN, who state that food production must double by 2050 so we are able to feed our growing population.
The study found that the average age of farmers in the UK is 55, with the number of people under 25 managing farms continuing to fall. In fact, in the last 10 years, the percentage of those under 25 who run a farm has dropped by 63%. Even in Wales, only 3% of farmers are under 35, an area where 88% of the land is used for agriculture.
The report does not provide an optimistic feeling about the future of the industry, with just 3% of those aged below 30 believing agricultural jobs provide a desirable career. For those unfamiliar with farming, the career could represent early mornings, low pay, bad smells and a perceived lack of opportunity. However, these are common misconceptions and unless more younger people swap their office roles for an agricultural career, the bank claim that as a country we could face serious farming shortages in the near future.
To encourage more young people into farming, Barclays has launched their #FarmTheFuture campaign. The bank has teamed up with JB Gill, a former member of the famous boy band JLS, who has changed career direction to become a turkey farmer.
The campaign aims to remove the misconceptions about life working on farms. The widespread lack of awareness and understanding mean that very few people are aware of the benefits of working on a farm, such as working outside, staying active and being able to work with machinery and animals.
With so many farms operating around the country, unless young people are introduced to the benefits of an agricultural career there will be no person in place to take over the management. In the UK we currently produce 60% of the food we consume, which reflects the importance of the industry within our country.
Thankfully, because of campaigns such as this, attitudes to working in agriculture are changing. A growing number of young people are turning to farming careers as they can be a great way to pursue a diverse and profitable career, through the use of new technology combined with traditional farming practices.
Removing the barriers to farming
The study also found that more than 50% of those surveyed believed they would not have the finances to be able to become a farmer. This was mainly down to the misunderstanding which many people shared, believing that to become a farmer they would need to inherit land. However, thanks to the development of new forms of share farming agreements this isn't always the case.
Although traditionally farms pass down through generations in the family, many farmers have no direct succession in place and are beginning to explore new options. According to research by the rural insurer NFU Mutual, less than 40% of farm business owners have a succession plan in place.
A share-farming agreement allows new entrants to agriculture to farm with the existing landowner in a partnership. This means a much lower start-up capital is required, than when trying to start a farming enterprise alone. Through a profit share plan, the new entrants' share of the business will grow over time. There are also other avenues which can provide entry to farming such as peer-to-peer lending and popular crowd-funding projects.
The benefits of running a farm
JB has revealed the reasons why he swapped a career in the limelight for life running a pig and turkey farm. One of the main reasons why he moved to the countryside was to work with animals and to appreciate the calmness of being away from a busy city. The move quickly paid off and he soon began to enjoy his own fresh produce, lower stress levels and the feeling of being a key part of the local community. By working as a farmer, you are the boss, your day can be as flexible as you need it to be and this is something which really appeals to JB.
A diverse and rewarding career path
The agricultural industry is going through a period of change, with pressure on boosting productivity to drive growth and produce a profit. A farming career is far from mundane, there is a requirement to be innovative, to manage and understand economic conditions and be able to diversify successfully.
As food supply demands increase and resources face increasing pressure, farmers need to be able to understand every aspect, from science and engineering to marketing. No two days are the same and a farming business can be tailored to suit a person’s own individual skills and interests.
Natwest also produced a report based on a study of farms and their plans for the future. The study found that over 57% of farming businesses across England have diversified. There are many examples of diversification enterprises, from barns turned into stunning wedding venues to holiday cottages and farm shops.
As a specialist agricultural employment agency, we know just how rewarding a career in agriculture can be. Agriculture provides amazing opportunities and rewards for young people, here in the UK and across the rest of the world. To manage our food supply challenges in the future we need a new generation which will create and deliver the solutions.
If you are thinking of starting a new career path, we have a variety of roles available and are always on hand to guide you through your journey. A great way to begin a farm management career is to work in a practical farm-based role. The experience will be invaluable and will give you a great insight into running your own farming enterprise. Whether you have just finished a degree in an agricultural subject area, or have recently finished secondary school, we have a variety of roles available.
To find out more about our current vacancies within UK agriculture, please contact our team today.
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are the worldwide leader in headhunting and recruitment for agricultural and farming positions. Take a look at our website today www.agriRS.co.uk to see what farming and agricultural jobs are available within our sector and progress your career in the right direction. Alternatively, contact our team on 01905 345 155 or email us for more information at info@agriRS.co.uk