Young farmers are the future of British agriculture – but there are some challenges and opportunities which affect all producers, regardless of age. From developing skills for the future to adapting to climate change, there is always something new to learn – and Cereals LIVE is delivering a full range of seminars with expert advice for forward-thinking farmers.
“Farming is as much about looking to the future as it is optimising the now; meaning that improving soil health and opening doors for the next generation should be part of every arable business,” says event director Alli McEntyre. “The Young Farmers and Sustainability Theatre at Cereals LIVE aims to provide farmers with the key information required to improve the sustainability of their both their farm and their business.”
George Baxter, agri-chairman at the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, adds: “NFYFC is delighted to be involved with Cereals this year, and is proud to have played a key role in helping to shape a Young Farmer programme. Young farmers can take part in online seminars and activities, from technical to business skills, networking, innovation and career opportunities. The new online features of Cereals LIVE are designed to appeal to YFC members.”
Below is a selection of the seminars on offer.
Routes into farming
Covid-19, the phasing out of the basic payment and Brexit will result in a massive restructure of the industry, opening up new challenges but also new opportunities for forward-thinking farmers.
A major inhibitor for new entrants is access to land, according to Jeremy Moody at the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers. “Putting land into hands of the proficient is vital to the future of the industry and the more opportunities (through tax incentives, for example) there are from the Government the better, as these will allow the change the industry needs to become more productive.”
Attendees can also hear from Delyth Jones at Venture on the potential opportunities of share farming, and Dan Frost on how he secured a tenancy with no farming background.
Skills for the future
Farming is undoubtedly becoming more high-tech, and this session will explore what skills are needed to stay on top of new technologies and business opportunities, as well as how to improve personal influence and performance.
Speakers include; Oliver McEntyre at Barclays, who will cover improving employability and marketability; Simon Gadd at the NFU, on upskilling to improve performance and productivity, and Beverley Dixon at G’s food, who will navigate the skills farmers need to deliver high professional standards.
Succession planning is typically a very difficult subject for farming families to broach. This session draws on the experience of those who have done this and independent experts that are used to supporting businesses through this very important transition.
One of the key things to recognise in organising succession is that the older generation are not necessarily being asked to give up, but instead to use their knowledge and expertise in laying the foundations for the future of the farm, says Mike Holland at the Agricultural Law Association. “Proactive and managed succession will recognise the huge value the older generation still have to the business, while allowing the next generation to make decisions, take on responsibility and develop their own business skills.”
Attendees can also hear from Matthew Naylor, a Lincolnshire arable farmer who will demonstrate that though succession planning isn’t easy, it is essential.
Enlisting the help of a trained mediator can be incredibly helpful and Becky Miles, an independent facilitator will outline the benefits.
Succession planning can also present a number of tax pitfalls, so Jane Hill at Safferey Champness will help navigate these issues.
Soils: The heart of sustainable systems
Soil is recognisably agriculture’s single biggest resource so this session will explore ways to improve soil health and create an economically and environmentally sustainable farming system.
Arable farming for many no longer involves direct links to livestock but Tom Chapman at Innovate4Agriculture will demonstrate the soil health benefits and practicalities of introducing animals into an arable system.
Other speakers include Julian Gold, who has put controlled traffic and minimum tillage at the heart of his strategy to prioritise soil health, and Sam Walker, on organic farming best practice to improve soils.
Other sessions include a glimpse into the wide array of careers available in the agricultural sector – complete with jobs board; a look at adapting to and mitigating climate change, and an informal video chat with charity partner RABI and Joe Stanley, trustee of the Henry Plumb Foundation.
For the first time ever, the Cereals Event is going online to support the industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with existing exhibitors and sponsors involved for free as their fees roll over to 2021. Cereals LIVE 2020 will be held online on 10-11 June 2020. For more information and to register visit www.cerealsevent.co.uk.