New agri students’ ambitions thwarted – NFU

The number of students enrolling on some agricultural courses has reached a ten year high but their ambitions will be thwarted unless innovative ways into farming are developed.

Delegates attending the NFU’s Tenants Conference next week will be told that the number of students on agricultural courses at Harper Adams University College is at a 10-year high.

However, a combination of county council smallholding dispersals and demand for additional land from existing farmers is making it increasingly difficult for would-be new entrants to find tenanted land, according to the union.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “The solutions do not just lie in a re-think on county farm sales. The industry itself has a responsibility to help carve out opportunities for the new entrants that we need.

“That could mean, for example, owner-occupiers who are planning to give up active farming but keep their land in sustainable agricultural production could consider committed would-be new entrants in their locality.

“We also need fiscal and regulatory frameworks that encourage the letting of land, rather than – as is all too often the case at the moment – making it more difficult.”

The NFU Tenants Conference 2011 is being held on November 10 at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire.