Shropshire Farming Talk: Valuing change, trusting tradition
Having lived in Shropshire and had family farming in Shropshire for most of my life, I have longstanding links to the Midlands region.
I believe that a healthy rural economy relies on a healthy agricultural sector and for this to happen, we need to help the next generation of farmers who would like to takeover the reins or enter our sector.
Farming isn’t an easy career option. We all know how hard it can be, working outside in all weathers for little in return amongst other things however, it can also be incredibly satisfying, whether it be successfully breeding and showing livestock or gathering in a bumper crop.
One thing that is often relied on in farming families is that the next generation will continue the family business, sometimes with little planning or knowledge of how it is run.
Shropshire is fortunate, those looking to establish a fulfilling and successful farming or rural based career have a number of ways to start out. Further to businesses the next generation may already have links to, we have rural apprenticeships and higher education establishments including Harper Adams University, North Shropshire College and Reaseheath College in Cheshire.
I have the opportunity to regularly interact with potential future farmers and I find their determination and enthusiasm inspiring in a sector which faces many challenges as well as opportunities. It is one of the most important industries to our region and the nation and farmers have the chance to improve farming practices both sustainably and economically.
One of the main priorities of the CLA is that support is given, not only to current land and business owners, but future ones too. From this, the concept of the CLA Next Generation was derived to bring successors and future successors together.
Earlier this year we were lucky enough to host our first Next Generation Conference in Shropshire. The event was a huge success with 150 attendees all sharing knowledge, experience and business strategies, as well as networking opportunities. This is what the project is all about. Equipping successors with vital knowledge and advice on topical matters, leading to a smooth transition into business ownership or land management.
We must continue to inspire and support young people to join rural enterprises.
Sophie Dwerryhouse, CLA Midlands Regional Director