Benn meets farm leaders over skills

DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn is meeting farm leaders to discuss a skills strategy aimed at attracting more people into agriculture.

The industry summit is taking place in London on Tuesday (24 November).

Farm leaders will present Mr Benn with a new strategy they believe will ensure the right skills for a sustainable and profitable agricultural sector.

It has been developed by the AgriSkills Forum – an industry group which includes Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based sector.

Other forum representatives include the NFU, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Landex and key industry employers.

Forum chairman and Yorkshire farmer Richard Longthorp said he wanted farming to be recognised for its professionalism, valued and an attractive career of choice.

“This is far from being just a talking shop,” he said. A successful agricultural industry needed world class employees.

“We must do all we can to encourage people of all ages – especially the young – to be attracted to agriculture and land-based management as an exciting career.”

Agriculture must attract 60,000 new entrants over the next decade, according to a recent Lantra study.

Lantra director Madge Moore said: “Our industry faces many issues that go far beyond the effects of the recession.

“Having enough food to feed the country is key and having the skills to combat the serious impact climate change is having on our land is essential.

“It’s clear there’s a need to address the skills of both employers and employees and this strategy goes a long way towards addressing that.”