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It’s time to swap the flat caps with laptops

Image overhaul needed to attractmore youngpeople into agriculture industries I

AM married to aPem- brokeshire farmer and I’m pleased to report thatheisnot

an aged character with aflatcap and amoth-eaten tweed jacket with afondness forsucking a piece of straw. Unsurprisingly though, this is the

image thatsomanypeople have of farmers.Perhaps it’s the fault of the advertising industry,whichper- ceives this image to be trustworthy and wholesome,and abletocon- vince consumers to buytheir pro- duce. The question is would this image

inspire the brightest and best young people to takeupacareerinagricul- ture?Ithink not.

Manyofthose who guide school

children in their choice of career are unaware of the challenges and opportunities thatagriculture offers –not onlytothose who are practical and interested in technolo- gy and engineering –but to science students interested in animal and plant breeding, nutrition and soil management. It is true thatthe average ageofa

Welsh farmer is 58, so it is clear that asteadysupplyofable, young entrants is needed to keepWales farming. Getting into farming has until

recent years been farfromeasy because of the capital needed, but there are nowmanyroutes thatare

becoming more commonplace.I knowofsuccessful farmers who have got into farming through a range of agreements including share farming and contract farm- ing, and they nowhavestrong busi- nesses of theirown.Andforfarmers with no successor,these opportuni- ties can provide aperfect solution. We are starting to move away

from asystem thatencourages farmers to remain in work instead of retiring. Perhaps it is nowtime formore

work to be done in schools to improvethe image of agriculture and nurture the next generation of farmers.

By Debbie James

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Wewould liketowish all our customersa Merry Christmas and a Happy Newyear! Tryus!

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