Fresh start for farmers launched at the Smithfield show

by 5m Editor
6 December 2004, at 12:00am

UK - 'Fresh Start', an initiative to attract new people into farming and help others create opportunities for the next generation, was launched by Sir Don Curry, the Government's chief independent farming advisor and Lord Larry Whitty, Farming Minister at London's Smithfield show today.

Sir Don Curry said:
'Now is an exciting time to build a career in farming. The whole sector is going through changes which I believe create real opportunities for young people with bright, innovative ideas, as well as those already in the industry. All farmers will need to adapt to the changes in some way and make choices about the future direction of their business. Fresh Start will help them do that.'

Lord Whitty said:
"The future of farming depends on many things, not least the need to attract skilled and enthusiastic people to the industry. At the same time we should not neglect those who are considering career change or retirement. Fresh Start will provide much needed advice and sign-posting for appropriate services, for people starting their farming career, seeking to change and diversify or who are planning to withdraw from active farming."

'Fresh Start' is an industry-led initiative in England aimed at securing a sustainable future for farming through bringing fresh, dynamic and innovative people into the industry, whilst prompting others to think about options for the future development of their businesses. It is supported by a range of industry bodies. Fresh Start focuses on:

  • How to ensure that farming is able to attract new entrants with energy, enthusiasm and the right technical skills; The Farmers' Club last week held a seminar attended by the Princess Royal which considered how best to attract and maintain a sustainable workforce for the industry. It was agreed that farming must develop an image as a professional career option. Continuous professional development for all involved - from farm workers to business principals - was essential

  • Advice and support - A short practical guide has been produced to direct people to the many sources of advice and support available for new entrants and those taking their first steps in farming. In the longer term Defra will also be developing an electronic rural advice channel, which will ensure that all farmers are directed to the services that are available

  • Responding to change - A new booklet will help encourage farmers to think about how they might respond to CAP reform, whether this means expanding their business, diversifying into other activities or leaving the industry. Such choices will serve to create opportunities for new entrants wishing to develop a career in the industry

  • Enabling retirement - A resource pack has been produced for professional agricultural advisers to assist discussions on farmers' retirement options.

Other areas of support for new entrants are also being explored, including mentoring, and matching new entrants to farmers leaving the industry. These elements are complex and will need to be developed by the industry in the longer term, taking into account existing provision of these services in rural areas.

A parallel 'Fresh Start' initiative is being launched in Cornwall by the Cornwall Agricultural Council. This will include the key elements of the national Fresh Start initiative, and it is hoped that lessons can be learned from the Cornwall experience to inform development of the national initiative.

Source: Defra - 2nd December 2004

5m Editor