26 October 2001

Rewarding enough?

Everyones got a theory

about the career plans of

todays young people in the

countryside. Are they

turning their backs on the

land or are they as

determined as ever to work

in agriculture? FARMERS

WEEKLY wants to know the

true picture. So, with your

help, our Next Generation

Survey will provide the

answers we all want

LACK of profit is outweighing the oft-heard "way of life" reasons for working in farming, prompting many youngsters to opt against a career in the industry.

The pressures of farming combined with the prospect of higher income and "less hassle" elsewhere means many are looking outside farming, says NFU president Ben Gill.

And any disadvantages associated with an agricultural job multiply when income is non-existent, he says. "Many have to work by themselves in often difficult conditions. Not able to share the problems, there is always a feeling that the problems faced are unique to the individual. Working conditions can present a less ideal working environment than the factory or the office.

"It is the non-financial attractions of our industry that have made it possible to retain as many as we do. Farming is in the blood may not be a new saying but it is nevertheless as true today as it was 100 years ago.

"The rewards from a job well done can never be bettered than with living creatures and plants. The feeling of success with a difficult but successful lambing, the satisfaction in seeing a top-class crop develop through the growing season are but two of the very many experiences that are difficult to experience elsewhere."

National Beef Association chief exec Robert Forster says the "ultimate factor" is income. "There have always been highs and lows but now there have been a succession of lows in farming. The highs are becoming more and more of a memory.

"If you talked to farmers 10 years ago, they would say it was a wonderful way of life and that the frustrations were well countered by, for example, the beauties of seeing a sunrise or the camaraderie of the job.

"All the farmers I know still have really good moments that you cannot get if you live and work in a town but the question is are there enough of these?"