Farmer Focus: Championing young farmers

Well let’s start with some positive stuff. On Friday night I won “Champion in Developing a Young Workforce” at Dumfries and Galloway Business Awards.

For someone who has never won anything, it was a very proud moment.

When you hear the word sustainability, what do you think? What does it mean? A windmill, solar panels, AD, or just being efficient?

To me it’s all about keeping youth in your team, because if you don’t keep bringing youngsters in the bottom end and growing them with your business it will be a lot more difficult to plan in the long term.

Even though young people are challenging (at times), it’s well worth the effort.

Wearing my NFUS hat, this month we have arranged a young farmers conference in Dumfries and Galloway on 18 May, entitled “If the average age of a farmer in D&G was 35 [it’s currently 55-plus] would things be different? If so, come tell us why”.

See also: Farmer Focus: Time to take charge of our own affairs

The aim of the one-day event is to inspire young farmers, and young people working on farms, to plan their future instead of waiting for it.

We have four great young entrepreneurs from across the sectors coming to share how they set out to do things differently. My thoughts… are young people getting the chance to take responsibility?

We know succession is a major issue on many farms. Sometimes it’s a bit like the royal family – until the top one pops his (or her) clogs, no change.

I would say the younger you are when you get to make decisions, the more time you have to correct the wrong ones.

On the farming front, drilling spring crops is only starting here between drainage works and waiting on grasskiller turning old grass yellow. We are well behind and now the rain has returned, but gradually things are warming up.

I’m looking forward to my next two trips to Ireland: first to the Dairy Volatility Conference, and then – weather permitting – the Balmoral Show.

See also: Read more from the Livestock Farmer Focus writers

Gary Mitchell milks 800 cows, with heifers reared on a local farm. Gary zero-grazes 80ha of the 195ha he owns. He is regional board chairman for NFU Scotland.