FRESH efforts to involve more people in the future of food and farming have been kicked off by farming minister David Heath.
The Future of Farming review will concentrate on improving access to the industry for talented, entrepreneurial young people.
And as part of the campaign, Mr Heath will be using social networking site Twitter to launch a competition for five young people to meet him and discuss the issues.
He said: “With a rising world population, Britain has a massive opportunity to grow and export more food, and to do so sustainably.
“So we need to encourage new blood into the industry. I’m not just talking about giving people more access to land or getting them on production lines but allowing youngsters to really embrace new ideas and technology for rewarding, well-paid careers.”
The Future of Farming team will be headed by David Fursdon, who chairs the South West Rural and Farming Network and is a former president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
The team, which includes George Dunn of the Tenant Farmers’ Association and the NFU’s Robert Law, will travel around the UK, gathering feedback from across the agricultural sector from farming to science.
It will examine issues including the future workforce and skills needs of the industry, different entry routes into farming, such as buying property or tenancy, the challenges facing new entrants such as lack of training, access to land, access to capital and why employers can struggle to find the right people.
Mr Fursdon said: “Producing food more sustainably is a huge challenge and we can only hope to meet it by having the right people entering the industry.
“To make this happen, we want to listen to young people’s experiences to make sure the right people are entering the industry and have the support to establish their businesses.
“I’m looking forward to pushing on with this work and building on the work already being carried out within industry to come up with some new ideas.”
To enter the Twitter competition, Defra is calling on young people to tweet @Defragovuk with what they see as the key barriers facing their future in farming, using #meetfm. All entries must be tweeted by Thursday January 24.
Mr Heath will look at the responses before choosing which five entrants he wants to meet to discuss their ideas further at the Houses of Parliament.