YOUNG people's biggest obstacle to entering farming is the current sky-high price of land but the industry needs new blood, according to the Northern Farming Conference.
The event, held on Friday at Harrogate, looked at the issues preventing new entrants coming into the industry but also why now is a good time to get into agriculture.
Perthshire sheep farmer and Nuffield scholar Michael Blanche is a first generation farmer who failed to secure a tenancy seven times when he was starting out.
He said: “We need young people to believe that they can farm, that it is possible, that they can succeed against the odds and find their own way.
“Above all, be resilient, be the best and keep it simple. Giving up is easy. To be special, never give up. We don’t fail because of a lack of resources but because of a lack of resourcefulness.
“Farming can be the most depressing industry in the world but it can also be the most exciting in the world. It depends on who you talk to. We need the excited voices to shout much louder.”
He said the farming ladder is currently “a flatpack with no instructions and several screws missing” and that the industry needs an effective ladder and progression route.
This year’s conference, attended by 220 delegates and organised by the CLA, Strutt & Parker, Dickinson Dees, Armstrong Watson, Catchment Sensitive Farming and Gibson & Co Solicitors, came after a drought, then wettest summer on record and a poor harvest. CLA president Harry Cotterell said: “Despite all the difficulties, this is a very positive time to be going into agriculture.
“We have very good agricultural colleges filling a really vibrant industry. We need to start thinking about what the industry is going to look like in 50 years’ time and build an industry that’s fit for purpose for the future but it is a very exciting time to start.”
And Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, said: “Our industry needs young farmers. We need them to take it to the next level but we also need a Government that will champion our industry through thick and thin and as a farmer in politics I will be pushing that all the way.
“We also have to support all sectors, not just large businesses. Getting into farming is one of the hardest things to do and realistically the only way young people are going to start up is on a small scale and so we need to support small farms as well as the big players.”
The conference also discussed CAP reform, ash dieback disease, bovine TB and the planned badger culls, and food security.