Britain’s next generation of farmers are overwhelmingly positive about how the industry will fare in the 2020s, exclusive Farmers Guardian research has revealed.
A massive 64 per cent of farmers aged 38 or under said they were optimistic about the next 10 years, compared to just 17 per cent who were pessimistic and 19 per cent who were unsure.
The survey, carried out in mid-December, also found the greatest hope for 72 per cent of young farmers was that more customers would recognise the value of British produce over the next decade.
Improving sustainability was another key aspiration for the next generation, with a number of farmers saying unprompted their strongest desire was to see agriculture become more environmentally friendly in the coming years.
This theme was also picked up when respondents who were not first-generation farmers were asked what they were doing differently to their parents.
Making better use of technology, diversifying and becoming more business-focused were the only three changes which scored more highly than working to enhance the environment.
Despite this optimism about the future, young farmers did recognise the industry would face a number of challenges in the 2020s.
Competing with lower standard imports was seen as the biggest problem on the horizon by 34 per cent of respondents, while 28 per cent believed an inability to buy or rent land would be the main difficulty.
A lower proportion of those surveyed thought changing consumer diets would be the greatest challenge, at 17 per cent, but a sizeable minority did spontaneously say they believed overcoming a negative public perception of farming would be the key issue they would face in the next decade.