Politicians need to do more to promote farming careers, says Lantra

Leaders of the three main political parties are being urged to encourage young people to make a career in farming.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg are all being lobbied in the run-up to the General Election.

Richard Longthorp, chairman of Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based sector, is meeting all three men when they visit Yorkshire.

Mr Longthorp, who is also the driving force behind the industry’s AgriSkills Strategy, is meeting Mr Cameron on Thursday (11 March).

The pig farmer will raise skills issues and the strategic importance of the farming sector at each of the meetings.

He will meet Mr Clegg on Friday 19 March and Mr Brown at a date still to be finalised.

Mr Longthorp said the government needed to give agriculture the same priority status as other industries if the economy was to grow.

“All the political parties need to understand just how important our land-based sector is for contributing to the bottom line in the UK’s economy.

“Particularly in times of recession and the need to have enough food to feed the nation in a sustainable way, we need to gain that recognition.

“What’s more, we must ensure we have the right skills to deliver this.”

The next government must ensure the rural economy was recognised as a real player in the nation’s economy, Mr Longthorp said.

Recent research by Lantra found that 60,000 new entrants are needed into agriculture over the next decade.

Without enough workers, a shortage of skilled workers in the environmental and land-based sector may jeopardise the food supply, it said.

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