ONE of the biggest issues facing the farming industry is getting new people into agricultural work, according to one Herefordshire farmer.

Research from Barclays revealed the true extent of the problem, finding only three per cent of 18 to 30 years olds would view farming and agriculture as a desirable career.

It said the number of farmers over the age of 65 has increased by 70 per cent over the last 10 years, when the research was carried out in 2018, while the number of under-25s has dropped by almost two-thirds over the same period.

Ben Andrews, an organic vegetable, arable and beef farmer near Leominster, grew up in a farming family.

He felt that breaking into the industry could be a challenge, and one that needed addressing.

His great-grandfather moved to Broadwall Hall Farm in the 1930s, and his family has been there ever since.

“Getting into farming must be one of the hardest professions for people to come into,” Mr Andrews, 39, said.

“But there are loads of different ways: just starting off going to agricultural college, getting part-time work on farms, getting started in there. You can build that up to managerial levels, working for some of the larger farms, but there are also some fantastic people who are just starting out with a couple of acres, just renting that and growing some veg on a very small scale.

“There are lots of different ways to get into it, but sometimes you need to think outside of the box.”

Mr Andrews said roles in agriculture weren’t just about

being a farmer; there were jobs such as crop scientists, layers, surveyors, land agents and agronomists.

The Hereford Times has been highlighting the issues facing farmers, as well as celebrating the successes, with our #BackingHerefordshireFarming campaign, with making the industry attractive to newcomers just one of the problems it is facing.

The National Farmers Union has launched a group with the aim of helping young farmers in the industry.

The NFU said it believed the future of agriculture was dependent on good young farmers driving forward innovation, and improving competitiveness in each sector.

It said that’s why it created the Next Generation Policy Forum – a group of 16 younger farming members who put forward the next generation’s views on current policy developments.

“Many organisations work hard to support younger farmers, not least the NFYFC (National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs), an organisation which the NFU is proud to have a strong relationship with,” it said.

“The NFU also offers free membership to students as well as members of young farmers clubs under the age of 26.

“Younger members can also get involved at a local level, with many regions keen to meet the next generation.”

The NFU also said it had 12-month industry development programmes to allow young people to learn about their sector from field to fork, to discover how the industry works and to identify how to get the most from it.

“Participants take part in a series of behind-the-scenes events and site visits during the year,” it said.