Funding Britain’s young farmers

A new body is seeking to redress the dearth of young recruits to the farming industry, an issue highlighted by The Prince of Wales (Country Life, November 13). The Henry Plumb Foundation, the brainchild of an octogenarian former president of the NFU, has set itself a fundraising target of £2 million for a series of bursaries.

Prof John Alliston of the Royal Agricultural University, chairman of the trustees, reports that £200,000 has already been raised and that nine young farmers have received grants. ‘The awards are available for a range of applicants-ideally, but not strictly, in the 18-35 age group-for educational and research purposes,’ he says.

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‘These first ones all went to young entrepreneurs, including three sheep farmers looking to work with new genetics. One of the conditions is that they accept a mentor, to bounce ideas off and who can help with contacts.’ The initiative ( was started by Lord Plumb, now 88, who in his mid twenties took over his family farm in Warwickshire. He became president of the National Sheep Association and chairman of the International Federation of Agriculture, and was instrumental in negotiating more support for British agriculture in the formative years of the Common Agricultural Policy.

‘We may only be able to help a few, but in helping a few, we may be able to help the many,’ Lord Plumb says. Defra’s Future of Farming report estimates that UK agriculture needs 60,000 entrants in the next 10 years to remain competitive.

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