Farming is centuries old. But that’s no reason to not be excited about its future. Agriculture is an ever-changing industry. It’s necessary to engage with new discoveries, new initiatives and new ideas to stay on top of your business and inspire the farmers of tomorrow.
Here we present three initiatives that keep agriculture’s present thriving while safeguarding its future.
1. FACETIME A FARMER
Sharing information and bringing keen minds to agriculture’s doorstep is a strategy that’s found success with one farmer. He’s been putting youthful enthusiasm for farming back on the agenda. FaceTime a Farmer is the brainchild of farmer Tom Martin. Piloting the scheme in his native Cambridgeshire, he sought to teach children about farm life and its importance in the food chain. The weekly Skype and social media sessions to classrooms more than captured the interest of pupils. So successful is the scheme (including a classroom in India!) it’s got to the point where it’s all too much for one farmer and is being rolled out to others who are eager to educate inquisitive minds about the rigours and rewards of farming.
Farmer Tom is banging the drum for livestock across Twitter and Facebook, piquing the curiosity of young social media users. Meanwhile LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) has lent its backing, reinforcing the message of spreading the word about agriculture and the countryside. So if you get the opportunity, why not get involved and be part of inspiring tomorrow’s generation of agricultural experts?
Managing livestock can be incredibly rewarding. But it’s a tough business. Sheep farming in particular can be unpredictable in terms of production and profit. Infections, accidents or any number of mishaps can set back a farmer’s year of yield. So it’s a good thing that the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution is there with a critical source of support when things take an unexpected turn for the worse.
R.A.B.I is a welfare charity that offers financial support to farming families in tight times and unforeseen circumstances. Legal advice and a friendly point in the right direction is also part of the charity’s service. It’s an agricultural leg-up to the farmer in need. You can make a small financial contribution or get involved by attending or even hosting your own fundraiser.
The Open Farm Days started out as a way to open up farm life to young visitors, giving youngsters a chance to experience firsthand the workings of agricultural life. They offer children a practical, eye-opening view of how food and livestock production works up close, without the filtered detachment of a television screen or book. This hands-on approach to education through opening up the workplace for a day is the perfect way to capture the interest of a child. Let them feed a lamb, muck out or clamber on a tractor to forge a lasting healthy impression at an early age.
There can’t be many better ways of building strong relationships between your farm and the local community than inviting it into your fields, so make a commitment to opening your gates as soon as you’re able. It’s a profile-raising promotional project that connects you with customers and spreads the good word of hardworking sheep farmers such as yourself. Get involved here.
Seen something that interests you? Then make the positive decision to get involved. Doing so will broaden your network and help to secure the future of sheep farming. Not just for yourself, but for the generations after you. There’s a lot to love about that.
Dave is an RCVS advanced practitioner in Sheep Health and Production. He qualified from the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in 2004, working mainly as a production animal veterinary surgeon, until joining Zoetis (previously known as Pfizer Animal Health) in 2010 as an Area Veterinary Manager. In 2015 Dave joined the Zoetis National Veterinary Manager team.
Dave’s areas of interest are the health and production of sheep and the sustainable control of parasites in farm animals. He is the chair of the NOAH anti-parasitics committee and sits on various national cross industry bodies including the sustainable control of parasites in sheep (SCOPS) board.
Dave is from a farming background and still manages his own flock of pedigree Texel and commercial mule sheep on the Welsh-Shropshire border.