Farm minister David Heath has unveiled a government drive to get more young people working in food and agriculture.
The Future of Farming review will see a group of people touring the country as they investigate ways of making agriculture a more attractive career choice. The group also hopes to improve access to farming for talented, entrepreneurial young people.
A rising global population, increased demand for western-style diets around the world and the need to reduce the environmental footprint of food production meant farming needed to fill thousands more highly-skilled posts in coming years, said Mr Heath.
“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 group will be led by Devon farmer and landowner David Fursdon, who is chairman of the South West Rural and Farming Network and a former president of the Country Land and Business Association.
Producing food more sustainably was a huge challenge, said Mr Fursdon. Group members would tour the country as they sought ideas and views from a wide cross section of the agricultural sector, from farmers to scientists.
Mr Fursdon said: “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.”
The group will examine issues affecting new entrants to the industry, including different entry routes into farming, such as buying property, tenancy, share farming and contracting.
It will also examine the challenges facing new entrants such as lack of training, access to land, access to capital and the image of the industry.
A Twitter competition will give five youngsters the opportunity to put their ideas to Mr Heath in person at Westminster.
The government is asking young people across the country to tweet @Defragovuk with what they see as the key barriers facing their future in farming, using the hashtag #meetfm.
Mr Heath will then review all the responses and invite five individuals to meet him at the Houses of Parliament to feed their ideas into the review.
All entries must be tweeted by Thursday 24 January 2012.