Looking ahead to 2022 – David Ractliffe, Next Generation

First published: 20 December 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, Next Generation Forum Chair David Ractliffe considers what lies in store for 2022.

We feel as a forum that new entrants into our industry have never needed help getting access to finance more than they do now. One of our key areas of policy which we will continue to develop will be Defra's New Entrant Scheme, which is set to launch next year.

Enhanced grant rates

We have encouraged Defra to consider offering enhanced grant rates to new entrants in the future, which is currently offered to farmers in Ireland. However, I think Defra is more likely to focus this scheme around helping ‘new blood’ improve their business and financial skills.

This in turn will then help with applications to a potential landlord and the banks. We will continue to work with Defra and ministers to deliver an ambitious scheme that is fit for our industry's new and emerging businesses.

Mentoring and grants

If you are reading this as a new entrant currently, I would recommend looking into the Henry Plumb Foundation that offers free mentoring and grants for farmers aged between 18-35.

Skills and services

This year has also seen The Institute of Agriculture and Horticulture (TIAH) be created. Skills within agriculture has been a theme that the forum has followed for some time.

TIAH is expecting to launch its services to farmers in early 2022, which will be a hub of information on careers for those looking to enter the industry and those looking to progress.

TIAH will also help to keep everyone on track of training, signpost opportunities and simplify audits. We are well placed to work with TIAH with our South East representative, Owen Piper, who sits on their board alongside Tom Bradshaw.

A key role for new entrants

After a long period of virtual meetings, the forum met in person in October 2021 and began to debate what our future strategy looks like.

We believe that NFU can play a key role for all new entrants into agriculture by helping build professional networks, supporting knowledge growth, and of course, representation.

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