The average age of farmers in Britain is increasing and those that are looking to retire are finding it difficult to find younger farmers to take over. Popular daily newspaper Metro reports that in order to give the farming profession a makeover, Farmers Weekly magazine has come up with the Farmers Apprentice program.
According to the report, the average UK farmer is about 60 years old and the campaign is focused on young people between the ages of 18 and 25. Ten people – five farmers and five non-farmers will be selected from thousands of entrants and put in a farming ‘boot camp’ for a week to complete a number of tasks. The winner will be selected from this pool and be given £10,000 to give them a start on the farming ladder.
To enter, entrants should send in a 60-second application video and the shortlist of the ten candidates will be announced in September. Contestants will also be judged based on “expertise in business, marketing and economics to apply alongside those with farming backgrounds.”
A recent survey students by the Careers in Farming and Food Supply initiative, set up to attract people into the food supply sector, revealed that only four per cent would consider agriculture as a career choice, while one in four students said farming was ‘boring’.
Clearly farming and agriculture are not considered as a career option because they are perceived as difficult, backbreaking labor.
According to Richard Jacobs, chief executive of Organic Farmers & Growers, there needs to be a change of persception. The lack of new entrants into the industry has been a topic for discussion over the past few years. In spite of various setbacks, Mr. Jacobs has said that British farming is in a good state and this competition might boost it.
Britain does import a lot of food as consumers have started expanding their palates to include many foods from abroad. However, the recession over the past two years has encouraged many people to think about growing their own food on a small-scale – just a small step away from full fledged farming.
William Frazer, editorial projects manager at Farmers Weekly, views the role of the farmer as the “guardian of the landscape.” He has added that “farmers are delivering a hell of a lot to society, from managing our whole countryside to delivering all the stuff that helps people through extreme weather events. I think it’s quite an awesome role to have within society.”
Image Credit: Sheep Pasture, Wikimedia Commons