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Positive vibes at NFYFC’s Big Ideas Brunch

Positive vibes at NFYFC’s Big Ideas Brunch

Training and succession issues were the hot topics of debate at the 2018 AGRI Big Ideas Brunch, sponsored by Kuhn Farm Machinery.

Young Farmers said that colleges and universities were not offering enough up to date skills to help them progress a career in the agricultural industry and called on the older generation to work on succession plans.

Questions and concerns were raised during the debate at the Brunch, which was facilitated by NFYFC President Charlotte Smith.

The panel was made up of Rob Boole, owner of a contract crop spraying business and a health and safety training company, Chris Cardell a tenant farmer and a national spokesperson for the NFU National Tenants’ Group and Sir John Campbell founder of Glenrath Farms – one of the largest businesses in Scotland, producing, packing and selling 1.5m eggs per day.

When a young farmer from Nottinghamshire asked how to encourage the older generation to take a step back and let the younger generation move forward – Smith said she had sympathy for older farmers but highlighted how important it is to have a succession plan.

Most of the room were on their feet when Charlotte asked young farmers to stand up if they were facing succession difficulties.

Sir John encouraged farming organisations to unite to develop a scheme that would give young people more opportunities to break into the industry.

In Boole’s family business they have a monthly business meeting on a set time and day that is minuted to avoid heated arguments and snap decisions.

Cardell acknowledged succession could be a tricky topic for smaller family run farms – especially if there was anyone reluctant to talk about it.

The panel highlighted new ways that younger and older generations could cultivate more share farming and business opportunities. Fresh Start Land Enterprise, was pointed out to be one among others, that offered this type of service.

When the panellists were asked if they had any regrets in their careers so far, Sir John said he would have “borrowed a hell of a lot more money quicker.” He advised young farmers to “have a business plan and take a chance.”

The lack of apprenticeships was also highlighted as a major issue and panellists encouraged the room to respond to the Government’s consultation paper by 8 May 2018 on the future of farming.

During the Brunch, young farmers were encouraged to log on to the Defra consultation website to share their views. NFYFC AGRI has already submitted a response on behalf of the Federation. 

A question was asked to rate degrees verses experience, which resulted in a split opinion in the room. Employers present at the event, said that experience counted as much as qualifications. But young farmers questioned whether the current HE teaching syllabus was up to date and reflecting the business requirements of the industry today.

AGRI Vice Chairman David Goodwin, Warwickshire FYFC, was disappointed that the local land-based college system was not as effective for future labour requirements as it has been in the past.

However, industry connections, networking and mentorship were emphasised as key benefits of taking a degree.

AGRI Chairman James Hutchinson, Wiltshire FYFC, said it was up to young farmers to help boost the British brand and challenged everyone to be bold.

Positive concluding remarks from Sir John left young people with an optimistic outlook.

“There are fantastic oportunities for young farmers, you have to look for them and grasp them. If I was your age, I would think the world’s my oyster. Work hard and you will succeed.”

Top advice

  • If you get knocked back, don’t give up at the first hurdle
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Take chances
  • Work hard
  • Use your contacts – they will be useful to you
  • Respond to the Government consultation paper. 

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