Experienced entrepreneurs had plenty of advice for the next generation at the NFYFC Annual Convention (4-6 May), offering insights into farming’s challenges – and how to overcome them. 

We asked four of them for their top tips for young people starting out in the industry, coping with succession issues as they think about taking over the family farm, diversifying the business and taking the message about farming to the public.

See also: All the coverage from the 2018 NFYFC Annual Convention

Gareth Wynn Jones © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Gareth Wyn Jones © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Gareth Wyn Jones

Welsh beef and sheep farmer Gareth is a great believer in getting the farming message out to the public and makes regular appearances in the media. He says:

  • Use social media effectively to enhance your farm
  • Integrate with people to get the backing of the locals. When they’re on board with what you do, it will really improve your farming experience
  • It’s always nice when young farmers carry on the family farm, but diversification is also important. Think outside of the box and consider ways you can adapt your business.

Rob Boole © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Rob Boole © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Rob Boole

Rob is an agronomist based in north Wiltshire, and owns a contract spraying business. He and wife Charlotte are no strangers to diversification. The pair have converted disused cowsheds into training workshops in which they run courses for the land-based sector. His tips are:

  • Diversification is crucial. Look at what new enterprises you can delve into and aim to add a new angle to your farm strategy
  • Take advantage of environmental schemes – the application itself can be a real learning curve.

Chris Calder © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Chris Cardell © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Chris Cardell

Chris is a tenant farmer from Cornwall, and national spokesman for the NFU Tenants’ Group, which offers support to existing tenants, young entrants and landlords.

While young people face a wait for opportunities in an ageing industry, he says they need to ensure they’re ready to take over:

  • Get a sound education to help find the right route into the industry for you
  • Use YFC to build contacts, which will be crucial to forwarding your business.

Sir John Campbell © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Sir John Campbell © Colin Miller/Recalibrated

Sir John Campbell

Peebleshire farmer Sir John founded Glenrath Farms, the largest farming business in Scotland producing more than 1.5m eggs a day. He encourages new entrants through a scheme that offers low-interest loans to young farmers. He advises:

  • Don’t be afraid to visit local farmers, lend a helping hand; it can be a great way of building relationships and entering the industry 
  • There are fantastic opportunities out there for young farmers. Look for them, find them and grasp them with both hands
  • With hard work, dedication and commitment you are giving yourself the best chance to succeed.

Rob Boole, Chris Calder and Sir John Campbell were all speaking at the Agri-Brunch on the Saturday (5 May) of the NFYFC Annual Convention held at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.