Dispelling the myth of the flat-capped farmer

James Manning
James Manning

With the realities of modern farming incorporating the latest technology and innovations, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is keen to dispel the outdated stereotype of the flat-capped farmer whose main intention in life is to hold up traffic in his tractor.

James Manning is fighting this stereotype on the front line, as a forward thinking farmer, and now a TV presenter on BBC 2’s Harvest 2015, and Channel 4’s First Time Farmers. He is hoping to inspire other ‘farmers of the future’ in the new Next Generation area at the NSA Sheep Event on Wednesday 27th July, at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire.

“I believe one of the biggest challenges we face is attracting young enthusiastic people into the industry, people who are going to take us forward into the future.”

James Manning

“I believe one of the biggest challenges we face is attracting young enthusiastic people into the industry, people who are going to take us forward into the future,” says James. “For those sorts of people to be interested in the industry we have to showcase what we do, across all sectors. I think the general public needs to see agriculture as a young, exciting and vibrant industry to be a part of.”

For the 2016 Sheep Event, NSA is capitalising on its Next Generation project, which includes an ambassador programme that selects a group of 12 young sheep farmers each year to take part in technical training and personal development.

NSA has been running the programme for three year now, so more than 20 NSA Next Generation Ambassadors will be at the event for visitors to speak to. The new dedicated area will help encourage prospective young entrants to consider sheep farming as a realistic option and encourage those already taking their first steps in a career or business. There will also be an interactive map, aiming to highlight clusters of young sheep farmers to set up future discussion groups, and an opportunity to practice media skills.

“Industry events like this are great as they bring a lot of people together in one place, so you have a captive audience to engage with,” says James, who is looking forward to getting involved in the NSA Next Generation area at the show.

“The great thing about farming is that it’s a passion, not just a job. It’s our responsibility to try and portray that to new entrants and the wider public, so they buy into it as well.”

With a successful TV career to date, James has been able to find a platform to showcase farming for the general public.

“I’ve always been quite an enthusiastic person, having an open mind-set. I’ve been involved with the family dairy farm from a young age, then I went away to university and learnt about other aspects of the wider industry.”

James’ advice for the next generation is simple. “Open your eyes to everything. Take on as much knowledge, even if you think it’s complete rubbish, and try and understand your chosen profession to carve out a career path.”

By harnessing James’s obvious passion for the industry, the NSA is hoping the Next Generation area at this year’s Sheep Event will inspire a new breed of sheep farmer. Engaging with this younger audience, the aim is to utilise all the enthusiasm and skills out there to dispel the myth of the flat-capped farmer.

To book your tickets please visit www.sheepevent.org.uk.