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Young people urged to get on the farming ladder
A SOUTH Lakeland-based farmers’ leader is urging young people to start in the sheep sector if they want to get on the farming ladder.
John Geldard, chairman of the National Sheep Association (NSA), said becoming a shepherd could prove the most cost-effective way of getting into agriculture.
He spoke out to highlight the benefits of the NSA’s innovative Ambassador Programme, which has been launched to help encourage a new generation of sheep farmers.
“Sheep farming is one of the few ways for young people to get into agriculture, as it requires less capital investment than some other sectors,” said Mr Geldard, who farms at Levens.
“We have a keen next generation that just needs our support and encouragement and I hope a good number of people from Cumbria and surrounding areas will apply for the Ambassador Programme.”
The programme and a new website has been launched as part of its NSA’s ongoing Next Generation project.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said the programme would bring together many aspects of the organisation’s work with budding sheep farmers.
“The website provides links to training, funding and scholarship opportunities. It lists colleges and universities around the UK offering agricultural courses, and offers advice on starting your own sheep flock. It also brings together all the existing NSA activity, including our very popular matchmaking service for students looking for on-farm placements at lambing time.”
He said suggestions about extra content would be wel-come. By the end of the year up to 12 young people with enthusiasm for the sheep sector would be selected for the 2014 Ambassador Programme and would be offered technical and personal development, covering elements such as market selection, food chain development, sheep husbandry, brand development and adding value, optimising genetics, time management, business planning, presentation skills, conflict resolution and promotion of the sheep sector.
Mr Stocker added: “With ambassadors selected from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the programme will provide the opportunity to meet like-minded people throughout the UK, as well as key people within the sheep sector. ”
For further information about the programme visit the website www.nsanextgeneration.org.uk
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