A RECENT study by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) reveals the industry’s demands for a service to match young farmers with farming opportunities.
The report highlights that there is currently no central marketplace for either young farmers to advertise their skills and their business ambitions or for existing farmers and landowners to promote opportunities.
Industry bodies were strongly in favour of the creation of a matching service to encourage new entrants into the sector, the report found. The NFYFC is now calling on key industry membership organisations to play their part in making the Farming Opportunity Matching Service happen.
The feasibility study, which was funded by DEFRA, and carried out by Dr Steve Webster, interviewed members of Young Farmers’ Clubs, farming organisations, farmers and members of allied industries.
The report is very timely as it links in with the industry led Future of Farming Review to look at the challenges and opportunities for young people working in the agricultural industry.
New opportunities for farming depend on an innovative approach from industry, trade organisations, farmers and landowners as well as business development advisors.
The matching of regional, technical and business support to a central system was also seen as critical to the success of the matching service.
One of the key questions that arose from the study was whether the culture of farming could be changed to adopt such a scheme.
Ahead of a presentation at the NFU conference on February 28 about NFYFC’s commitment to future farming, Chris Bateman NFYFC’s agriculture and rural affairs committee (ARAC) chairman said: “At a time when the Government is carrying out a review into the future of farming, it is clear that a farming opportunity matching service needs to be considered.
“Young people who want to break into the industry currently have very limited ways of finding out about the opportunities available – and likewise farmers and landowners have nowhere to find keen young farmers. We must do all we can to encourage new entrants into the sector and this service would help to do that.”
Author of the study Dr Steve Webster said: “It is impressive that the NFYFC has instigated this study into a matching service. Preliminary findings show that the industry would welcome such a scheme. It now needs the support of key industry bodies to help deliver it.
“Whilst it is easier to envisage a farming opportunity matching service operating in some agricultural sectors than in others, there are numerous cross-over between the different agricultural sectors that present opportunities for young farmers. Hence all farming sectors should be included within a single matching service.”
Dr Webster concluded: “Further study is now needed to scope the existing training, support and mentoring on a regional level and to work with partners to establish the foundations of the service itself.”
To find out more about the work NFYFC is doing in support of future farmers at www.nfyfc.org.uk/futurefarmers.