From the editor: Council shortcomings must not knock a rung off the ladder

Young farmersGetting started

If it wasn’t tough enough to get a foot on the farming ladder, the diminishing number of county council farms is making it even harder to get started.


Herefordshire Council’s decision to rid itself of its farm estate has rightly been scrutinised by unions and tenant farming chiefs, but the damage could have already been done.


The issue for many new entrants or young farmers is that the chances of getting started in farming are increasingly tough, and while the work ethic and drive of many to succeed will see them through, many more face huge odds.


You only have to read our back page Young Farmer Focus on a weekly basis to realise the passion many have for this industry, and it is heartening to see. But their options are reducing all the time.


It might be understandable that, in an era when many councils are facing having their budgets squeezed as Government tries to plug huge holes in the NHS and police services, they are seeking to off-load their farming estates as many have done.


But that begs the question of where the next generation of farmers will get their start in the industry and what that means for the sector and food production as a whole.


Added to this is the fact that many of these farms, which are often smaller units without the scale of more commercial farms, could disappear from the landscape and inadvertently change the aesthetic of the countryside, especially if the sites are redeveloped for non-farming purposes or to accommodate a bigger farming operation.


It seems that on every level farming finds itself at the bottom of the agenda, whether at national or local government level. Maybe it is reflective of a UK population that no longer has ties to the land and, therefore, is unconcerned about the plight of farms and farmers.


The enthusiasm and desire of our young farming community will not diminish, but it offten needs a helping hand in the first place.


And finally..


It is sad to see that the doors of Chelford mart will close on March 30. Let’s hope a solution for a new market in the area can be found.

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