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Young farmer focus: Mick Handley - 'I encourage anyone to gain experiences by working for others'

Mick Handley, 26, grew up on a hill farm in Slaidburn, Lancashire and is in partnership with his parents, running a herd of pedigree Belted Galloway cattle and 1,000 ewes. 

Background

 

I grew up on a hill farm and studied agriculture at Bishop Burton College, East Riding of Yorkshire.

 

I went shepherding on a large estate in Northumberland for a couple of years before heading to New Zealand for six months, working on two different stations.

 

I feel I gained a lot of knowledge and experience from my time away, bringing back many new ideas to try at home.

 

I would encourage anyone to gain experience by working for others wherever possible before joining the family business.

 

Partnership

 

I am now in partnership with my parents who are tenants at Croasdale House Farm, Slaidburn, Lancashire.

 

The Belted Galloways are used for conservation grazing on the fell ground and suit the farm very well.

 

I feel a low cost extensive system is the way forward for us with both sheep and cattle.

 

The farm is environmentally focused and I think by working closely with the landowners and environmentalists there is scope for a lot more to be achieved in the future.

 

I am hopeful that one day I might be given the opportunity to take the tenancy on the farm and am optimistic about the future of farming.

 

There are going to be many challenges to face but I believe there will also be opportunities along the way for young people.


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Wool

 

Three years ago I started buying wool direct from farmers on behalf of DB Wools.

 

Although the current value of wool is far from great, it is good to see DB Wools are supporting farmers by giving a fair price again this last year.

 

I believe with more companies now buying wool direct, the choice of outlets benefits farmers.

 

YFC

 

I am currently the county chairman of Lancashire Young Farmers.

 

Due to Covid-19, the role has more challenges than usual, with meetings and competitions all online.

 

Often members living and working in rural areas do not get the opportunity to see many people and young farmers usually brings everyone together.

 

We are working hard to keep the membership active, as I am conscious of the impact on members’ mental health of being in another lockdown.

 

It is vital to reach out and contact friends, neighbours, and vulnerable people in these unusual times.


Hopefully one day soon we will get back to doing what young farmers are known for and enjoy doing – charity work, socialising and face-to-face meetings.

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