Breaking into the UK agricultural industry has traditionally been a family affair. Children are inspired to take up their parents’ profession, and the family farm is passed down to the next generation.
Today, more children of farming families are permanently leaving the farming profession in favor of other career paths. This turn of events has opened up a potential market for non-traditional farmers, i.e. individuals who don’t have a family tradition of farming in their past. So how does such a person break into farming for the first time?
Do your research:
There’s no better way to research a profession than to work at that profession for a significant period of time. If you are young and unencumbered by rigid financial obligations, take a full-time job on a working farm. Talk to successful farmers and learn their strategies. Understanding the day-to-day operations involved with farming is a must. Also, understand that wanting to work on a farm and actually doing it are two different things. Farming is hard work and, after a few months, many decide they’d rather consume the products of farming than produce them.
A great resource for finding a farm that will take you on with very little experience is: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms-UK WWOOF.
This organization finds positions for individuals who want to learn a specific set of farming skills. Whether you want to be a beekeeper, a cattle farmer, or a grower of organic crops; WOOF can find a position that meets your needs.
If you are under 26 years old you should consider joining the National Federation of Young Farmers YFC as this will give you great opportunities to network and hear about upcoming farming jobs.
Get your education:
Modern farming is a science. Agricultural education is crucial to your future success as a full-time farmer. There are many agricultural training programs offered in the UK. Many of these institutions have been in existence for over 100 years and Stackyard lists some of the UK agriculture colleges. Courses offered cover everything from crop rotation to legal concerns.
A variety of scholarships are generally available through the college chosen. These scholarships are usually allocated by financial need or to reward superior academic achievement.
Find your funding:
Renting land is a potential way to break into farming without taking out a loan. There is a significant downside, however. The cost of renting land has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of profit you’re able to retain. Since farming profits are highly dependant upon unpredictable factors; renting early in your farming endeavors can be a hit-or-miss proposition.
Thanks to a recent government initiative to encourage local food production, the UK government has a variety of low-interest loans available for the aspiring farmer. These loans provide better interest rates than traditional loans from private institutions.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She spends much of her days blogging about Education and CollegeScholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.