From the age of 14, Josh Dowbiggin knew he wanted to farm.

Trips abroad to visit farms and attend agricultural conferences – motivated by summers spent on his grandparents’ farm – gave him a passion for Herefords.

So when he realised a university degree could help him achieve his goal of one day buying and farming his own land, the next step for the innately entrepreneurial Josh was to set up a business to fund his education.

See also: Ag Student of the Year finalists

Josh Dowbiggin

Barnoldswick, Lancashire

Josh Dowbiggin

Josh Dowbiggin © Tim Scrivener

Winning ways

  • Innovation and entrepreneurialism have paid his way through university
  • Excellent stockman with good knowledge of Hereford breed
  • Good with people, from university peers to cattle breeder customers
  • Not afraid to admit mistakes and learn from them

Ghyll Beck Stud is just one of the endeavours that have fully funded the 21-year-old’s agriculture course; others include a pedigree Hereford sale and small flock of Easy Care ewes.

He admits that balancing university work with the demands of his various businesses has been difficult, but says Harper Adams has been extremely supportive.

This year he has also been juggling his work placement with the Co-op and ABP, which has filled a gap in his knowledge of the supply chain:

“I had no idea of the work that goes on behind scenes in retail; I expected a reactive role, but it was very proactive, building contacts with farmers and farming communities.”

When you meet Josh, it is immediately obvious he would flourish in such a role.

He is well informed, driven and gregarious – thanks in no small part to his travels in the US, Canada and Uruguay over the years.

For now, Ghyll Beck Stud sells Canadian genetics in the UK, but the long-term aim is to start exporting. “You’ll be seeing a lot more of this guy in terms of the breeding sector,” says Josh’s tutor Russell Readman. We couldn’t agree more.

Ag Student of the Year 2017 is sponsored by the Woodland Trust

The finalists were:

  • Helen Brown, Kirkbampton, Cumbria
  • Robbie Stevenson, Holm, Orkney