NFU president, Peter Kendall, urged young farmers to get involved in the NFU and “craft the industry forward”, at a breakout session, jointly organised with the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC).
Looking at a room of over 100 young farmers, during the Next Generation workshop at this year’s annual conference, Mr Kendall said it was a “breath of fresh air”. “As an organisation we’ve done a poor job in engaging young people in the NFU,” he added.
Young farmers at the workshop said that the key issues faced by their generation revolved around affordable housing, negative stereotypes of farming, “uninspiring” NFU meetings and the financial issues if new-entrants want to join the industry.
Mr Kendall argued: “We don’t want to be an organisation full of dads turning up at our meetings. We want you [young farmers] to be the face of the NFU.
“The way to have a vibrant industry is to have young people. I know the value of young people. Come on and bash on the door. We’re open-minded and we don’t rule anything out.”
He said that it was an “exciting time for the industry” and the NFU was “keen to get the next generation involved” with the dynamics of climate change, the new demand for renewable energy and changes in population and wealth.
The NFU is considering launching a ‘Why Young People Matter to Farming’ campaign in the summer, alongside its ‘Why Farming Matters’ campaign.
Tom Rawson, 28, of Clever Cow Organics, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said: “We need to lower the age of people at the NFU. The meetings need to be more business focused. We need to think about profit not lifestyle.”