There are vast challenges facing the global agricultural sector at this moment and, here in the UK, the combined effects of Brexit, floods, and climate change have ensured a state of anxiety and flux for all involved.
What's the challenge to the agriculture business of today?
It seems the entire agricultural sector is faced with worries about harvesting crops following the UK's departure from the European Union, or else concerns that increased droughts and floods due to climate changes will prevent crops growing. What's more, media scare stories about potential chlorinated chicken imports and other products with lower standards than our own are hitting the news on a regular basis.
Despite the fact that agriculture accounts for almost 70% of total land use in the UK, less than 60% of the food on supermarket shelves is produced in the country. There are lots of reasons for this, one main factor is that the average age of UK farmers is 59, leading to a decline in the innovations and developments that tend to be introduced by younger people in the sector.
One of the current challenges in the UK is working towards the "Green Farming Scheme" which is being launched by the government. The Environment Secretary is consulting with all farmers and interested bodies over the period to May 2020, to garner views on ways the environment can be protected and sustained, whilst also providing essential harvests and livestock grazing.
George Eustice spoke at the NFU Conference on 26 February and stated that farmers will be spearheading the challenges of tackling climate change and reversing environmental damage.
Some of the schemes attracting government payments will include hedge and tree planting, flood management and river management and restoring wildlife habitats. This means that following departure from the EU, the UK will move towards paying farmers for the benefits they provide to society rather than grants towards the amount of land that's farmed or crops produced.
The Environment Secretary said: "We can all agree that we want British farming to be sustainable in the truest sense of the word, an industry which is profitable, competitive, and productive while feeding the nation and taking care of our landscapes too. This week we’ve published more detail on our plans for the future and specifically on Environment Land Management, outlining how we hope to work with our farmers, and what to expect. Now more than ever, efforts for the environment are absolutely critical, and no group has more power to reverse environmental decline than our farmers."
These new schemes are a departure from the traditional methods of funding farming currently in place in the EU. Although farmers have been paid to set aside land, this new system actively encourages a more sustainable farming practice, along with a greater emphasis on forestry and planting.
If you'd like to participate in the consultation, you can comment on the DEFRA website online, over the weeks to May 2020. The Agriculture Bill will soon be discussed in the House of Parliament and many of the suggestions will be considered during MP debates.
It's likely that from 2021 there will be grants to farmers for investment in the technology and equipment needed to increase productivity alongside all the environmental benefits needed to sustain the land.
In 2022 DEFRA will focus greater funding for research and development within the sector, to ensure innovative products help increase food productivity and worker efficiencies. Again, sustainable farming will be one of the factors enabling landowners to access grants.
DEFRA is also looking at greater health and welfare legislation for all livestock kept within the agricultural sector. Farmers producing food classed at a higher level than required by regulations will be able to access greater levels of funding. It's assumed this grant funding will be targeted towards organic farming and free-range livestock rearing. That's mainly down to the fact that consumers value better quality foods, and producers don't necessarily get paid sufficiently for the amount of work and effort that goes into this sector. How this sort of DEFRA statement is viewed by farmers who are increasingly worried about cheap food imports from the United States following Brexit remains to be seen.
Due to the many challenges facing the farming sector in the UK at this moment, one of the more pressing worries is attracting career-minded candidates into agriculture.
Build your career in farming and the agricultural sector
If you're contemplating a career in agriculture, there will certainly be lots of challenges to overcome but the rewards can be immense. Not least because you're working in a natural environment, and probably leading a healthier lifestyle than peers working in urban environments.
The Farmers' Guardian has issued an interactive online magazine aimed at students and young people looking for careers in the farming and growing sectors, and this is coinciding with National Careers Week 2020. There are so many different careers available within modern agriculture, so no matter where your abilities lie there's sure to be a job and career path to suit.
Agriculture isn't just about farming and working the land; technology is playing a far greater part in the sector, and you could be surprised at the available opportunities. This is an exciting time of change for the agricultural sector, and looking forward it is likely to become one of the most dynamic industries in the UK and throughout the world. With the increased use of technology and the challenge of feeding the entire global population, it's not difficult to understand the reasons for this. Graduate salaries for many of the specialist agricultural roles needed today can start from £24,000 annually, whether you plan to become a software researcher, agricultural engineer, or environmental researcher.
The experts here at Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are knowledgeable about all sectors of the farm industry, whether you're a science graduate or IT whizz, and we can help you get your valuable career off the ground. Give us a call to find out more!
If you're looking for work in the agricultural sector, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists can help you find the right niche in the UK, Europe and beyond. We can assist in finding which doors are open for you with your specific background and even advice on what you could do to improve your prospects.
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