A forthcoming support scheme to encourage new blood into the industry should show the ambition to empower a new generation of farming entrepreneurs. That was the message when younger NFU members met with farming minister Victoria Prentis.
New Entrant Support Scheme
The NFU’s Next Generation Forum set out a series of asks for the New Entrant Support Scheme, an important part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan that will sit alongside arrangements for lump sum exits from farming.
Chair David Ractliffe said commercial, structural and practical hurdles faced by new entrants were all on the agenda during a meeting that he described as a 'positive first step'.
Aspiring farming entrepreneurs
He added: "I stressed to the minister the number of aspiring farming entrepreneurs already in the wings of existing farming businesses, in our schools, colleges and universities, who want to flourish and bring new ideas.
"While there are many challenges, from access to capital, finance from banks, and land to farm on, there are opportunities to grow skills and to gain mentoring from a professional network of current farmers and growers."
Routes in for all
"It is vital that there are routes into farming for anyone who is keen to pursue a career in producing the nation’s food, whether they are from a farming background or not," David continued.
"I would encourage people from all backgrounds to enter this exciting sector; one which helps keep the nation fed with climate friendly food, rears livestock to world leading standards, and ensures our iconic countryside is cared for."
The forum called for a scheme that:
- Helps new entrants with access to competitive finance, to include government-backed loans for those who may not have capital or security, but do have a viable business plan.
- Improves access to land for new entrants, including a review of the legislative barriers in tenancy agreements, support for joint ventures, and template agreements for two parties who want to enter a beneficial agreement to farm a certain area of land, while remaining as separate businesses.
- Develops a network of experienced farming mentors to support individuals with high-quality, experience-based guidance, and which rewards mentors for their service.
- Broadens the horizons of entrepreneurs by providing agriculture travel bursaries to enable farmers to bring back fresh ideas to grow their business.
- Supports partnerships between industry and government to grow new entrant entrepreneurs’ networks.