BARCLAYS has launched #FarmtheFuture, a campaign encouraging farmers to plan for their future and tell young people about the benefits of a career in agriculture, as new data reveals that Northern Ireland’s 18-30-year-olds don’t view farming as a desirable career.
The bank has teamed up with former JLS boyband member and TV presenter JB Gill, who has swapped pop stardom for a rural life of turkey and pig farming, to show the younger generation that farming could be their perfect career.
Across the UK, the number of under-25s running farms has dropped by two thirds (63 per cent) over the past 10 years, and the average age of a UK farmer is 55.5, with 38 per cent aged 65 or over.
Despite the job meeting many of the criteria young people look for in employment, a lack of understanding and a perceived lack of resources appear to be the key things putting young people off a career in farming.
Over three quarters of millennials in Northern Ireland (64 per cent) said staying physically fit and healthy while working was important to them and over half (51 per cent) said they would like to work with animals.
Almost three quarters (74 per cent) believed they wouldn’t be able to afford to become a farmer, while 45 per cent thought they needed to inherit land.
While many farm businesses traditionally pass down through families, farmers with no direct succession are now exploring alternative options, including share farming agreements.
These allow new entrants to farm in partnership with the farm owner with much less capital required than starting out alone. Their share of the business can grow over time through profit share.
JB Gill, former JLS boyband star and TV presenter, said: “There’s a lot of misconceptions among young people about what a career in agriculture really means.
“It’s hard, physical work so it keeps you fit, you get to work with animals, you’re your own boss and you can keep up with the trends by posting everything on Instagram for everyone else to see, and you get to work with animals and grab loads of Instagram photos.
“The farming community is really welcoming, providing newcomers with knowledge on everything from tending to animals to financial advice.
“You don’t need to have your own land to work in agriculture, there are many options from farm management through to the service industries and I would encourage anyone interested to give it some serious consideration – it’s a life like no other!”
Mark Suthern, national head of agriculture at Barclays, said: “Barclays has over 150 agriculture relationship managers working the length and breadth of the UK to support businesses within their local communities and help them plan for the future.
“Every industry needs new talent to innovate and look to new markets, and the next generation will be vital as the sector strives to boost productivity and drive growth.
“Farmers in Northern Ireland have proven time and again their ability to diversify, innovate, and weather tricky economic conditions, so the skill and experiences the older generation can bring are vital.
“But the next generation need to learn the skills to carry businesses forward in the future. The best place to make your first enquiry on a road to a farming career is your local agricultural college or university.”