Richard Bower, 30, farms with his father at Lower Drayton Farm, in Penkridge, Staffordshire. They run 300 beef cattle and 200 hectares (500 acres) of combinable crops. Richard is the NFU next generation forum chairman.
Perception: How do we make agriculture sexy? It is a difficult question to answer but I think we already have a bit of a head start.
We need to make agriculture the choice for the future and the passion we have as farmers makes it an attractive industry already. We just need to solidify that by making farming both sustainable and profitable.
COP22: That passion was showcased at Farmers Day at the COP22 international climate summit in Marrakech, Morocco, where I represented the World Farmers’ Organisation and the NFU in my role as their next generation forum chair.
I was lucky enough to speak at a Farmers of the Future panel debate about how we can increase the number of farmers getting involved politically with agriculture. I feel incredibly lucky I have had the opportunity to get off the tractor and learn about how policy decisions are made as part of the NFU next generation forum.
My eyes were well and truly opened to the work of policymakers across the industry, but more importantly the forum has given young farmers a voice into those decisions.
We are able to input how decisions will affect the farmer on the ground.
The summit was all about climate and it was a brilliant opportunity to showcase the work which farmers are doing to help the environment and tackle the changing climate.
‘Climate smart agriculture’ became a bit of a buzzword in Marrakech and it got me thinking that so many farmers are already practicing this but it’s not really showcased to the wider public.
Innovation: Just on our farm in Penkridge, Staffordshire, we have solar PV, we harvest rain water which we reuse for the cattle, we are investing in a strip tillage corn drill to establish crops in an environmentally-friendly way and we use the nutrient-rich fertiliser digestate.
There are plenty more fantastic examples out there – the UK farming unions recently publicised 22 case studies of on-farm renewable energy specifically for Farmers Day.
As farmers we cannot change the commodity price but we can change our inputs to reduce our environmental impact and a lot of what I’ve learnt this week is how we look at the small things we do on-farm from a political and environmental perspective.
It is all about creating that link in our minds.
And although I was in Morocco, I still had my farmer hat on and spotted the buildings making up the summit would make pretty good cattle sheds back home.
You can take the farmer off the farm…