FARMING‘S IMAGE has deteriorated to such an extent that a whole generation is turning their backs on it as a potential career, according to HRH the Princess Royal.

“The perception still exists that people in farming do it because they can‘t find anything else to do,” she said at The Farmer‘s Club‘s Workforce for 2020 Seminar in London on Wed (Nov 24).

The negative image has partly resulted from the media‘s treatment of scares such as BSE and foot-and-mouth, she said.

“We have produced some quite astonishing misunderstandings.”

But the negative image is also due to the increased detachment of most people from the rural way of life.

“Somewhere along the way, the rest of the population has lost touch with what happens in the countryside.” 

The whole industry has to work harder to sell the range of careers on offer and demonstrate what a vital role farming plays, she said.

“There are large numbers of people who still believe that producing food in this country is an optional extra,” she said.

“We have to convince people that it is technically rewarding as a job – and we have to sell the jobs as real careers to young people.”

NFU employment spokesperson, Bob Fiddaman, urged everyone to promote the industry and its lifestyle to children, teachers and careers advisers.

“We must stop farming being viewed as a job of last resort,” he said.

In addition to school and college leavers, “second careerists” from other sectors have a lot to offer, bringing vital new skills.

“Young people are the lifeblood of our industry, but we need people at all levels. We are in a competitive market – we must get the right people. It is essential that we find the farmers of tomorrow.”