Survey reveals concerns for young farmers
The survey results mark the launch of a new NFYFC campaign, called Rural+, aimed at highlighting the unique challenges faced by young people living in rural areas in the UK.
The survey asked young people with a farming background about their hopes for the future and, among the major concerns highlighted, were the limited opportunities for them to start farming (32%) and the lack of rural housing (55%).
In addition to rural challenges, young farmers also share the same concerns felt by young people more generally – such as low self esteem and concerns about body image (47% and 45% respectively). The majority of respondents were aged between 16 and 25 years old.
The survey also revealed young farmers were concerned about:
• Poor returns from farming (58%)
• Animal diseases such as bTB, Schmallenberg virus (59%)
• Uncertainty of future farming profitability (54%)
• Limited rural employment opportunities (41%)
• Lack of capital/availability of finance (41%) and high land rents (45%)
• Low income (50%) and inability to save (45%).
The Rural+ campaign is the brainchild of new NFYFC Chairman Claire Worden, who wants to raise awareness of rural isolation, and to show the support Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFC) can offer. Reassuringly, the survey revealed that 47% of respondents would speak to their YFC if they had a practical problem – and 77% would also speak to a family member or friend.
Working with The Farming Community Network and YoungMinds, NFYFC will be providing resources and guides for members who need help. TAMA, world leader in the manufacture of crop packaging products, is backing the NFYFC campaign by sponsoring materials for clubs and counties to use.
Claire Worden, NFYFC’s National Chairman of Council, said: “Our initial research into this vast area only proves that more work is needed to find out the true extent of the issues affecting young people who live in rural areas. I grew up in a very remote rural location in Cornwall but I was lucky because I joined a Young Farmers’ Club, which gave me access to a social life, support and friendship.
“NFYFC would like to develop more in-depth research into the issues affecting the mental health of young people living in rural areas so that we and other organisations can offer more support.”
Responses to the survey also indicated that succession planning and continuing the family business were also a cause for concern for young people. Only 9% of respondents had agreed a succession plan for their family business.
Charles Smith, Chief Executive of The Farming Community Network, said: “The survey highlighted some very real and considerable concerns faced by our rural young people. Whilst 50% of respondents saw themselves remaining in a farming related career, the majority felt that there were considerable obstacles to them becoming farmers in their own right. Sadly, the survey also confirmed that few families are openly discussing succession and the future of their family farms. Together with the difficulties many are facing with family relationships and a lack of self-esteem, possibly the result of a lack of clarity over their futures, there is much to be done to support our young farmers.
“FCN is delighted to be working alongside the NFYFC to better support their membership and to be there as and when they need practical or pastoral help from our volunteer network.”
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