Young farmers are concerned the Covid-19 pandemic will affect their long-term prospects and feel pessimistic about future opportunities to live and work in rural areas, a National Federation of Young Farmers’ Club (NFYFC) study has found.
Out of 528 respondents, one-third believed skill sets required for farming would need to change and less than half were aware of Government’s new Environmental Land Management (ELMs) scheme.
Ninety-seven per cent said they wanted to live in a rural area in the next five years but more than two-thirds cited there was not enough housing available.
Diversification or an off-farm income was also seen by 78 per cent of rural youth as the only way to run a future farming business.
NFYFC’s YFC Agri chairman George Baxter, a member of Cambridgeshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, said: “While this research raised some of the obvious issues around lack of affordable housing and the need for connectivity in rural areas, it also highlighted the wealth of skills and experiences of young people growing up on farms.
“Diversification and high-level skills will be required and there is an appetite to develop these.”
He added while YFCs face significant challenges ahead, the organisation offers an important service to rural youths.
“These young people also make a vital contribution to the local communities where they live and this has never been so apparent as during the Coivd-19 crisis.”
It came as Covid-19 saw changes in young farmers’ routines, home life, education and employment, with restricted activities impacting the sustainability of clubs as well as the charities they support.