If you had to rank career choices in terms of the ones carrying the most myths and misconceptions, then jobs in farming in the UK are likely to come out on top.
To be frank, some of the perceived obstacles and issues are a pile of manure!
Let’s take the bull by the horns, and look more closely at some of the lingering misunderstandings that could be preventing you from considering animal husbandry and agricultural job options.
British farming is dead!
There is much written in the media about the decline in British farming, and the hard times faced by many smaller land-based enterprises.
It is true that farms in the UK have sadly fallen away – some figures suggest by as much as a 50% reduction in numbers over five years.
Before you get too hung up on that, though, please keep in mind the breadth and scale of farming and the fact it is still and pivotal and essential part of the British economy. Its importance could even grow, post-Brexit.
Agri-tech as a whole boosts the economy in the UK by a massive £14.3 billion.
It employs over 4 million whose efforts bolster up the UK’s largest manufacturing sector (food and drink).
There are around 280,000 individual farms in Britain and many of those are facing the austere economy by innovating, investing in new crops and processes, and generally diversifying their income streams.
Smaller farms may have dropped away, but there is increasing evidence that large agricultural enterprises are filling some of the gaps they leave.
This is also an industry that the British Government values and supports to a high degree. Not just as farms produce the nation’s foodstuffs, but also as people working in farming are the custodians of large swathes of the landscape 57% of British land is given over to agriculture!
As a little reminder of how significant farming is to everyday life, do you eat bread? In the UK, farmers annually produce 7.8 million tonnes of wheat. They also cultivate 5.5 million tonnes of potatoes to keep that household staple in good supply too.
Consumers are turning to food imports
The above statistics link to another great myth, that British farming is suffering because ‘everyone’ eats foods grown overseas.
Of course, supermarket shelves are now groaning with a wider selection of foodstuffs imported into the UK. However, 60% of what we eat (which is a massive amount) is grown or processed here, within British farms.
Farmworker jobs are all ‘planting, picking and mucking out’
This is possibly the biggest myth of them all.
The variety of opportunities in agricultural recruitment is too diverse to list here. However, suffice to say that modern British farming requires a much broader brushstroke of skills and interests than ever before. That includes new generations of farming managers and entrepreneurs, who can develop and support robust business strategies.
Of course, agricultural vacancies include soil management experts and agricultural engineers and technicians to handle the transition to technology-based systems too. Anyone with STEM-based qualifications and skills could find there are exciting prospects, as global farming gears itself to face the challenges of a growing population and increased emphasis on sustainability.
There are also agricultural marketing jobs and vacancies related to farming support such as agricultural finance, banking and surveying.
Farms put family first
One of the misconceptions that may cause hesitation in considering agricultural careers is that farming is generally a family enterprise, that doesn’t recruit from outside close-knit circles.
Though many agricultural businesses have been handed down from generation to generation, the surviving and thriving ones are keenly aware of the need to bring in new ideas, skills and enthusiasm for farm jobs.
Farms prefer foreign workers
British farming has always been open in offering employment to workers from overseas, particularly for seasonal work connected to planting, picking and packing.
This has been a necessary way to ensure they have sufficient labour to meet peaks in workload, when agricultural job roles are time-sensitive, and tens of thousands of extra pairs of hands are needed.
That’s not to say UK farms don’t make strenuous efforts to fill these seasonal jobs from the local community. However, uptake tends to be patchy, as this sort of work is not always appealing to British people, particularly if it involves getting to remote locations for days that start very early.
UK farming is working hard to find ways to make its many and various vacancies more attractive to indigenous recruits.
Organic farming is all that matters
From an understanding of how vibrant farming is in the UK will hopefully come an appreciation of how diverse it is too.
Though some cultivation trends and systems receive heightened publicity, there are farms the length and breadth of Britain quietly ‘ploughing their own furrow’.
Whether they select to focus on traditional, biotech, organic, GMO, non-GMO or some other niche sector, the many tools and practices available to UK farmers all have their benefits. By making their own choices on these issues, farm managers and owners make a contribution to providing plentiful food supplies and a healthy economic picture. Which means agricultural recruitment covers a wide range of ‘types’ of enterprise too.
By the way, if you feel inspired by the prospect of supporting organic farming as its output is “better” for people and the environment, you may want to study this topic in greater detail. For one thing, the use of pesticides and other biochemical support mechanisms in farming is usually a very carefully measured and considered choice, to ensure we have enough food to keep pace with demand. Also, organic farming has yet to be proven to have significant human health values, when compared to foodstuffs from traditional enterprises.
Farm enterprise is solely tied to cultivation and conservation
One of the outcomes of the shifts and changes in British farming is that owners and managers of agricultural businesses have been forced to ‘think outside the box’ more.
Nowadays, farms are turning their hands to a wide range of side businesses; everything from holiday accommodation and farm shops, to wedding venues and small business incubation lets.
Research suggests that 66% of all English farms now have additional enterprises, which in 2017/18 produced a £680 million contribution to the UK economy.
Do you have innovative or interesting ideas on how farms can generate new income streams? It could well be that your entrepreneurial ambition and drive gets you a fabulous job in the great British outdoors!
Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk
Alternatively, if you are a client looking to expand your team, whilst using a professional recruitment / headhunting solution, then please call us today on 01905 345155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk