Farming starts at school

Agriculture should be ‘properly embedded within the National Curriculum for the science, maths and geography disciplines’, according to a Defra-commissioned Future of Farming committee. Its report, published this month, says more needs to be done to inspire children to take up farming by emphasising the high-tech, innovative side of the business, and it needs a ‘demonstrable form of professional qualification’.

Other problems facing prospective farmers are the lack of council farms and the reluctance of older farmers to retire; the latter issue is exacerbated by the CAP and the Inheritance Tax situation-the report says farmers need help to plan retirement and that Agricultural Property Relief needs modifying.

‘The balance has swung too far against new opportunity in agriculture,’ comments review chair David Fursdon. ‘This is not healthy and the solution cannot depend on market forces alone.’

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A survey by the Future of Farming committee of ‘young’ (under 40) farmers finds that-unsur-
prisingly-lack of capital is the main barrier to people going into farming and a common theme was a call for Government start-up funding or low-interest loans. When asked what they would advise putative farmers, 25% responded ‘You have to want to do it’, only 9% said it was a rewarding option and 3% said ‘Don’t do it’.

Out of the 400 respondents, 32% were in the job for the lifestyle and 28% because it was their family background; 13% were motivated by an interest in food production and 12% viewed
it as a career opportunity.

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