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Young farmer focus: Grant Stephen - 'Young farmers are desperate to start farming on their own'

Grant Stephen, 23, from Dallas, Moray, is a general farm worker with a herd of 140 pedigree Simmentals. He has a small herd of pedigree Beef Shorthorns and comes from a farming family with 80 suckler cows and 500 breeding ewes. 

Lifelong memory

 

As I sit down to write this (end of February), I have just returned from the Stirling bull sales.

 

This Beef Shorthorn bull, being of a decent quality, gave me the opportunity to sell at Stirling for the first time, a lifetime memory for myself.

 

I have worked away quietly in the background in the past six years buying and breeding Beef Shorthorns and have worked up to a total of 10 breeding females.

 

Starting out

 

There will be many young farmers like myself who are desperate to start out on their own in the farming world, but it has not been easy.

 

I would like to be able to secure land to increase my Beef Shorthorn herd and add in pedigree Simmentals, along with a flock of breeding ewes to allow me to farm full-time in my own right.

 

However, the availability of land, in my opinion, is the biggest factor preventing young farmers from starting out.

 

This is due to large land owners renting out to larger and well established farming enterprises.


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Also the ever-increasing average age of farmers factors in, with many not wanting to slow down.

 

This takes away the opportunity for the next generation to get a start.

 

The availability of finance to get a farming business started up is another major drawback, along with the lack of Government support to help young farmers get started.

 

Young Farmers

 

I have been a member of my local club, Lower Speyside YFC, for almost 10 years.

 

It may be a small club but joining Young Farmers has given me the chance to meet people locally, within the district and the north region and make lifelong friends.

 

Visits to agricultural and non-agricultural businesses has been a great opportunity to see how these operate and allowed me to pick up ideas to put into practise in the future if I get the opportunity to start farming on my own.

 

I also enjoy competing in stockjudging as it is a great challenge to try and match the judge as well as improve my stockmanship skills.

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