Hannah Binns, 22, is an agricultural policy graduate trainee at the National Farmers Union (NFU).
She has a degree in Ancient History and English and spends her spare time blogging about adventures on the family farm and beyond.
Pastures new: Despite enjoying growing up on a working farm in Lancashire, all of those afternoons spent in the pouring rain on ‘gate duty’, chasing after countless sheep or re-enacting the lion king to find a decent signal anywhere left a lot to be desired.
So, when it came to choosing universities and furthering my education in 2015, I knew I wanted to study somewhere with a lot less grass and more shops: Leeds, after meeting further criteria, seemed the perfect Northern choice to call home for the next three years.
It is often said that university can be an eye-opening experience for a variety of reasons. For instance, I had never encountered a vegan before, but I soon found myself surrounded by a plethora of non-farming folk on campus!
And whilst it would have been nice to swap relatable stories about recent tup sales or sorting fat lambs without providing verbal definitions, attending a non-ag university made me so aware about the growing disconnect between my generation and the provenance of their food.
In fact, it inspired me to start ‘Hannah Binns – The Adventures of a Farmer’s Daughter’, a blog which aims to offer an insight into the various aspects of life on an uplands sheep farm and tackle some common misconceptions about the industry.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think anyone would pay attention to my online ramblings.
So I have been blown away by the various opportunities blogging has created: from having my articles and blogs printed in numerous publications, gaining a place on the BGAJ John Deere training course, being selected as a Love British Food Young Farmer ambassador 2018 to appearing live on the BBC promoting British Food and Farming at the Lord Mayor’s Show 2017.
I have loved every minute of my blogging journey and cannot wait to see where it will take me next.
My first ‘adult’ job: For now, the blog has taken a back seat since I have left the family farm and moved to the midlands for my first ‘adult’ job as an agricultural policy graduate trainee at the National Farmers Union (NFU). The scheme is two years long and is split into four six months placements, three based at HQ and one in the regions.
I have just completed my first six months placement in policy services where I worked closely with the environment, economics and land management teams on various projects.
During this time, I was entrusted to run my own rural crime project and produce literature for our members to help them ‘report it right’ as well as help execute two high profile events back in December: Business Symposium and our inaugural ‘United by our environment, our food, our future’ conference.
I have now moved to the food and farming department and will be working on a variety of projects for the livestock, dairy and arable teams over the next six months.
Given the name of the department, I am secretly hoping there will be plenty of sampling opportunities to get stuck into but I shall have to wait and see. I am particularly keen to offer my services to the dairy team since I am a self-professed ‘expert’ ice-cream taster!
Despite the competitive application process, I would recommend every graduate with an interest in agriculture to apply for the scheme as it truly offers a unique insight into how farming policy works from early implementation to lobbying for change.
But perhaps most importantly, the scheme gives you real responsibility from the off and the sheer variety of work across all sectors helps you develop both professionally and personally alongside some incredibly supportive and knowledgeable colleagues: a strong start for any career in agriculture!
Farmers Guardian has joined forces with 21 key industry stakeholders from across the farming sector to launch a new campaign, #ThisIsAgriculture, to promote careers in agriculture.
The challenge of recruiting is not a new one. Attracting new blood into the industry has always been an issue, with agriculture rarely sold as an exciting option into schools.
However, with the pace of technological change rapidly widening the skills gap and Brexit looming, the need to drive change within the industry has intensified greatly over recent years.
Building on the learning from the #ThisIsAgriculture survey, this initiative will work to educate the wider world about the wealth of opportunities available within the sector, as well as dispelling common myths about careers in agriculture.
We will also be collaborating with industry bodies and our industry partners to see where we can work together to shape the political agenda, drive educational reform and provide learning resources.
The campaign will also be sharing information with readers about how to attract – and retain – the right staff for farming businesses across the UK.