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Stuck in a rut? Career development for farmers

Stuck in a rut? Career development for farmers

With Brexit looming, UK farmers stand to lose or gain the most of all industries. The worst case scenario is the devastation of the farming sector by the ending of EU subsidies, which currently constitute 60% of the income of the average UK farm. The government has promised to match EU subsidies until 2020, but has so far been silent on what happens after that.

But some see opportunities for reform and environmental improvement. David Baldock, a senior fellow at the Institute for European Environmental Policy said: "It's really not the end of the world to think that we are going to produce slightly less and better." Guy Watson, the founder of the country's largest organic retailer, Riverford Organic Farmers, bravely told a gathering of livestock farmers that "there is no getting away from it, we have to eat less meat." Perhaps it is better not to pay farmers for how much they produce, which the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy does. In the past it has led to wasteful food mountains as farmers overproduce to earn more.

In the midst of this uncertainty, UK farmers need all the help and guidance they can get to navigate the choppy waters of Brexit and other challenges to develop their careers successfully.

The Worshipful Company of Farmers is a trade association dedicated to advancing the UK farming industry and all those associated with it. One of its key goals is to develop the skills of those involved in the farming industry, especially leadership and management skills. It has developed a one-week Leadership and Management programme to be run through the Duchy College Rural Business School and held at Keele University. It already offers two other key courses: the three-week Advanced Course in Agricultural Business Management and the two-week Challenge of Rural Leadership.

Philip Wynn, Master of the Company, said that with Brexit on the horizon, the Worshipful Company of Farmers had a role to play in helping farmers deal with the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“It is clear is that we will need to prepare more and more people to lead our industry into a vibrant, positive and profitable future,” he said.

“Now it is the right time to widen our educational reach and in October this year we are to initiate a one-week entry-level management and development programme to be held at Keele University.

“The purpose is to prepare young managers for leadership and management responsibilities and it will contribute to the growth of the wider rural sector.”

Mr Wynn added: “Farming and food businesses are becoming increasingly complex and carry enormous risk. We have recognised that we need to provide support beyond our existing business management delivery and we are now committed to sponsoring a delegate every year on the Cranfield Business Growth Programme.

“This course is very much about individual development and seeks to answer the critical questions of: Where am I now, where am I going and how do I get there.”