Nia Borsey, 26, is a planner at property consultants Fisher German and recently appointed NFU Student and Young Farmer Ambassador. She is based at Llysfaen, North Wales.
I am often asked ’do you live on a farm’ or ’are you a farmer’s daughter?’, but while the answer is no, I am actively seeking a pathway to owning my own small-scale enterprise.
Yet it is always assumed that you must work, live, or have grown up on a farm to have this interest, especially being a woman.
My wider family farm in North Yorkshire and this is where my interest in farming originated from a young age, however I have no family ties to farming in North Wales which has made it really difficult to formally enter the industry.
When I was applying for university, I was the only person filling out applications for agricultural courses. Even my teachers asked why I was applying for agriculture when I am not a farmer.
It was as if teachers did not see the industry as a career option for non-farmers.
This perception needs to change.
It has been incredibly difficult to get a foot in the door when it comes to starting my own agricultural enterprise, without the background of actually having lived on a farm.
The opportunities which are out there to first generation farmers are generally large-scale enterprises on a tenancy basis, rather than smaller scale farm business tenancies where you can enter the industry and progressively grow the business in a sustainable manner.
Without the financial security of an existing farming business, as well as the current land values, it is very difficult to purchase land.
When affordable land does become available, local landowners are often given ‘the heads up’ first, meaning it is almost certainly been sold prior to reaching the market.
This happened to me very recently and it too often prevents new entrants from entering the marketplace.
Yet it is really important for the sustainability of UK farming that we get new people coming into the industry.
I really do hope that more help will be provided for those from a non-farming background who wish to start out small enterprises, and that there are far greater opportunities for new entrants in the future.