East Anglia: Farming needs more tech-savvy young people to join the industry

Prince Edward meeting EDGE farming apprentices at the Royal Norfolk Show Prince Edward meeting EDGE farming apprentices at the Royal Norfolk Show

Annabelle Dickson annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk
Monday, June 30, 2014
11:44 PM

Our ability to feed ourselves is at risk amid a shortage of new technology-minded farmers joining the industry, MPs have warned.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Easton College livestock student, Laura Claxton, 17, claims there is no need to panic yet about the number of young people going into agricultural jobs. Picture: Denise BradleyEaston College livestock student, Laura Claxton, 17, claims there is no need to panic yet about the number of young people going into agricultural jobs. Picture: Denise Bradley

East Anglian farming bosses have welcomed a report by the Commons’ food, environment and rural affairs committee, which has called for a clearer government strategy and funding plans to get young people and others to consider a career in agriculture.

The wide-ranging report into food security in the UK has also called for supermarkets to shorten supply chains to reduce threats of disruption, and for UK farmers to extend the season in which it produces fresh fruit and vegetables.

During its inquiry the committee was told that the average age of a farmer was currently 60. In its report out today, the committee warned that our food security depends on a “vibrant, innovative and professional UK farming sector”, which needs a “regular inflow of new entrants to the sector”.

“Farming in the UK does not have this,” the MPs said, adding that efforts must be made to encourage new entrants who are willing and able to take advantage of new technologies so the sector was “modern and competitive”.

While MPs acknowledged that the government was looking at ways to work with the industry, it called for clarity about what funding would be made available. Ken Proctor, Norfolk’s National Farmers’ Union chairman, said there were large hurdles to overcome in getting people into the industry.

“You might not have a little farm any more and work your way up. There are some very technical people needed. You can’t just put anybody on a tractor any more.

“They have to be skilled people. If you took a young person on to drive a tractor now, there are health and safety issues and there is an awful lot of lone working. Farms are getting bigger and bigger.”

Mr Proctor, who has a dairy farm in Shipdham, near Dereham, said that in his sector they needed “fairly intelligent lads” to run the big units.

“At the end of the day people need to be fed. Farming cannot be allowed to disintegrate. With the population increasing worldwide, lots more people are needed to be involved in production.

“It is something we have got to tackle as an industry. We have got to find a way around it. If the average age is 60, it will be 70 in a few years’ time if it is not done.”

• Is enough being done to get people into agricultural careers? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Eastern Daily Press visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Eastern Daily Press staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Forgotten your password?

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Eastern Daily Press account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 22°C

min temp: 16°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT