FARMING MATTERS: NFU president’s plea to county councils: Don’t sell off the family silver

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The National Farmers Union is keen to attract new entrants into farming, and last week I wrote about their #studentfarmer ‘Schools Edition’ magazine which is currently being trialled in almost 150 schools across the country.

But attracting new entrants into the industry is being put at risk because councils are selling off county farms to fix short term cash flow problems.

Council farms have always been an excellent way for new entrants into farming to get a foothold into the industry by starting off renting a holding.

Speaking at the recent NFU Tenant Farmers’ Conference NFU president Meurig Raymond called on county councils to hold onto their council farms, saying: “When you sell the family silver there’s no more silver left to sell.”

He said the government needed to pressurise councils not to sell county farms.

He added: “County farms serve an important role in allowing that first foot on the ladder for new entrants. Some very entrepreneurial farmers started their careers on a county farm and without that first tenancy they would not be farming today. The industry urgently needs new entrants - these are the people who will be crucial in tackling the nation’s long term food security needs.”