The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

It is an industry with a reputation for being ‘pale, male and stale’. It is also an industry in which the average age of workers is 58. While the ‘male’ part of the accusation is slowly changing, with more women coming into agricultural jobs, there is no doubt that farming needs an injection of youth.

It is a warning issued by farm manager Oliver Scott, quoted on the farming website FarmingUK. Scott talks of the sector being, ‘on the verge of a farming crisis unless more young people can be encouraged to work the land.’

In the article, which can be found in full here, Scott, who manages Shropshire-based Bradford Estates, said the lack of new blood coming into the industry was continuing, with last year the ‘worst ever known’.

“There are simply not enough people coming into the industry, especially amongst the younger generation,” said 39-year-old Scott, who has worked in farming since he was at school.

One reason for the lack of young people was the perception that farming is very hard work, with long hours and much less opportunity for a good work/life balance than many other, largely urban-based work.

‘The advent of more and more larger machinery has meant that fewer staff are needed and, subsequently, working hours are increasing.”

Government regulations needed to be looked at to try and prevent these long working hours, he said, highlighting existing laws around how long a HGV can be driven.

‘There is nothing like that for driving a tractor or a harvester, which can be just as heavy and every bit as dangerous,’ Scott said.

The Shropshire based farmer believes that regenerative agriculture may hold the key for attracting young talent into the sector.

‘Regenerative farming definitely holds the key for UK farming – for me, that’s sustainable farming with less artificial fertilisers and less fossil fuels,’ he said. ‘We need to be getting young people onto farms and show them that the way they operate has changed and that farming is not a boring job.

‘Farming is anything but boring. Today, farmers need to innovate and diversify. There are aspects of science, ecology, engineering and marketing in running a successful farm. No two days are ever the same.’

Pic credit: Photo by Zoe Schaefferon Unsplash