THE NEW YEAR EDITION
CORN VS HORN
WIN TICKETS TO CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP DAY
BATTLE OF THE SECTORS SIX-PAGE SPECIAL
STUDENT BUSINESS SUCCESS STORIES
TOP TIPS HOW TO FIND A STUDENT HOUSE
YOU ARE WHAT YOU TWEET “Many of our best-loved
species will need a saviour and that knight in shining armour is the next generation
of farmers” PATRICK BARKER, p23
OUR GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
WHICH SECTOR IS FOR YOU? FIND OUT IN OUR QUIZ
5 BATTLE OF THE SECTORS
11 S e c t o r q u i z 13 WIN CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TICKETS! Remember us? #studentfarmer was initially intended as a one-off publication – but you won’t have failed to notice that we’re back for round two. We couldn’t have predicted the huge amount of support and praise we would receive for the first edition and because of this #studentfarmer is now a permanent fixture. So look out for new editions at the start of every term! #studentfarmer is your magazine and we want it to be all about you – so if you’re doing something new and exciting, or simply have a point of view you want to share with us, get in touch. Whether you want to have a chat via email, like our Facebook page (Facebook.com/StudentFarmer), talk about us on Twitter using #studentfarmer or get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how the magazine is put together on Instagram (search for ‘studentfarmer’) we would love to hear from you. We’ve had a lot of fun putting this edition together – we hope you have as much fun reading it. Many thanks to all the students and colleges that we visited along the way – it was a pleasure to meet you all. We look forward to meeting a lot more of you in the future!
Emily Cole Editor of #studentfarmer email@example.com
Published by: NFU, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, CV8 2TZ Designed by: John Cottle To advertise contact: Alan Brown 02476 858955 firstname.lastname@example.org
15 F i n d y o u r p l a c e 16 CHOOSE YOUR PLACEMENT WISELY
19 Pa t r i c k B a r ke r
CONTENTS 20 This is not a boring health and safety feature...
22 You are what you tweet 24 A TALE OF TWO CITIES
27 NFU STUDENT MEMBERSHIP
28 Market yourself
31 DREAM BIG 33 Student housing tips 34 To farm or not to farm...
BATTLE SECTORS OF THE
WHICH WILL YOU CHOOSE?
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ THE MAIN EVENT ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪
CORN V HORN SLUDGE MATCH
ENRICHED CHICKEN CAGE MATCH
PIG DADDY The Combine King v V The Muckspreader The Uddertaker EAR TAG TEAM MATCH
the Hurticultures v The Free Rangers
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ARABLE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ had contributed to it. I do most of the tractor driving on the home farm over the summer – that’s where I got the interest from. I’VE GOT A FULL-TIME JOB LINED UP FOR NEXT YEAR WORKING FOR A CONTRACTOR. As I’ve already had past experience I can go in higher up, so hopefully there will be lots of opportunities. Then I’m going to do higher education at Bridgwater. At some point I’d like to travel – I’m interested in an eight-month programme to Ohio. YOU CAN MAKE ARABLE FARMING WHAT YOU WANT. You could just drive a machine around a field, but I’d rather think about what I’m doing and try to make it as efficient as possible. I’m interested in grass – I like understanding how it grows and making it grow well.
PHIL HANNAFORD 19, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture (arable and machinery option), Bridgwater College
THE MACHINERY ASPECT OF FARMING IS WHAT I ENJOY – I’VE ALWAYS BEEN PRACTICALLY MINDED. I don’t want to lose touch with the stock side of things, but I enjoy machinery more. THERE ARE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES. I like machinery because I can work with grass and arable, and I still like cows, so I could work on a farm with both. MY DAD ALWAYS WANTED HIS OWN FARM AND MANAGED TO BUY ONE AND BUILD IT UP. It’s become more apparent to me since I started college exactly what he has achieved. THE ARABLE SIDE OF OUR FARM IS PURELY FOR THE BEEF ENTERPRISE. The first time I did it all – put the fertiliser on a field, then cut it, raked it up, etc – there was a massive sense of achievement seeing the animals eating it in the winter knowing I
YOU NEED TO TRY AND STAY WITH TECHNOLOGY. Keep with the times as much as possible, where it is financially possible – a lot of farmers are seen as backwards but there is no need to be like that. ONE PROBLEM IS YOUNG PEOPLE BUYING INTO THE STEREOTYPE OF FARMERS AND KEEPING IT GOING. Some people want to make a difference and improve their home farm, but you know they won’t be able to because they are tied to the past. They will do things the way it has always been done, because it works – but how much longer will it work for? PUBLIC RELATIONS IS SO IMPORTANT. How the public view you is becoming a lot more important and how things get done is swayed depending on what the public think. I THINK THE FUTURE WILL BE EXCITING. But it will be challenging – in our area, prime land just gets built on and land prices are mental.
Choosing arable was a personal thing. I like that it’s over a year; you sow your crops and then you see them grow. It’s rewarding at the end when you harvest what you’ve created. My dad has an arable farm, so I’m hoping to go back to that once I’ve graduated. I came to university because I wanted to get a broader sense of the subject. Just going back onto one farm could be quite single-minded, and I might not have got a grasp of other techniques. Going to university you see more examples and you get to know the industry in a broader sense. Arable farming is fast changing – if you’ve got some land you’ve got lots of options available to you. ASHLEY PAIN, 21, BSc Agriculture, University of Nottingham
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ SUGAR ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ SUGAR BEET IS PART OF OUR ARABLE ROTATION. We farm 700 acres on the Cambridge/ Suffolk border. I work with my father and my grandad is still involved.
RICHARD CLARKE 22, sugar grower
AFTER SCHOOL I WENT TO WRITTLE COLLEGE TO STUDY AN AGRICULTURE AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT DEGREE. I really enjoyed my time there; it was great to meet people from other sectors, look at different farms and learn more about the industry. There were quite a few of us that farmed sugar beet at home so we could learn from each other as well. We had lots of fun too; one year we did a charity pub crawl in our overalls and wellies which caused quite a stir in the local town! I RETURNED HOME AFTER MY TIME AT WRITTLE TO FARM. When I finished my degree I considered working on another farm. But the upcoming retirement of a farm worker and my grandad winding down his work on the farm made returning home a natural decision. One day I will take over so I am building my experience and knowledge for my future on the farm.
SUGAR BEET IS A GREAT CROP FOR US TO GROW. We are very close to two sugar factories, which makes transporting crops very easy. It is a good break crop and helps control blackgrass in our rotation. It also provides a good amount of winter work for us on the farm – there is plenty of variety! THE MARKET IS UNIQUE COMPARED TO OTHER CROPS. British Sugar is the only buyer in the country. The NFU negotiates the contracts for all UK growers with them. Global markets have pushed prices down and they could drop further. But the potential for increased exports if restrictions fall would be very positive for the sugar industry. MY ADVICE TO OTHER STUDENT FARMERS IS TO GET INVOLVED AND LEARN. Keep an eye on EU matters and world markets – it will help you become a better grower. The sugar industry is quite political so understanding how it works and the challenges in it is important. I went on a trip with the NFU to London and Brussels, which taught me a lot about the industry. I have been able to take my greater understanding of the crop and market back to our farm to help plan for the future.
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ HORTICULTURE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ I THOUGHT FRESH PRODUCE LOOKED INTERESTING WHEN I WAS LOOKING AT POSSIBLE PLACEMENTS. It gave me the opportunity to work for Intercrop Ltd in Spain, which opened my eyes to a whole new sector I hadn’t considered before. I went in not knowing anything about it but once I had been in the job for a few weeks I thought it was really interesting.
ALICE WHITEHEAD 21, BSc (Hons) Agriculture, Harper Adams University
THE VOLUME GROWN WAS HUGE. I was out there for six months and we harvested 100 tonnes a week. My main job was supervising the spinach team. FRESH PRODUCE IS VERY PEOPLE ORIENTATED. It relies a lot on manual and skilled labour, and it’s very focused on what the customer wants – specifications are very strict. It has to be really good quality and you have to be really concerned about food safety – there is lots of filling in forms, etc. THERE IS A LOT OF TECHNOLOGY, BUT AT THE SAME TIME THERE IS STILL A LOT OF RELIANCE ON MANUAL LABOUR FOR TASKS SUCH AS HAND WEEDING. There are both extremes – at one end it is done the same way it has always been
done. For instance harvesting, a lot of which can’t be done without human involvement. THERE ARE LOTS OF GOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE. It’s really interesting – people don’t realise the amount of skill that goes into growing fresh produce. SPAIN WAS BRILLIANT. I learned Spanish and I’m still having lessons now I’m back at Harper, I really don’t want to lose what I’ve learned! IT WAS DAUNTING BEING ABROAD BUT I HAD A LOT OF SUPPORT FROM THE COMPANY. Sometimes it was tough because I didn’t have my friends with me, but it was good fun. I’D LIKE TO MOVE AWAY FROM THE GROWING SIDE. I want to be involved in the other side of things, maybe something to do with packing, processing or as a supermarket buyer. THERE’S A LOT OF HARD WORK AHEAD FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. But it’s really rewarding. If you’re prepared to put the hard work in, you will get more out of it.
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ DAIRY ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ you off. If you’ve got the passion to do it, just do it, otherwise you’ll be left ‘never knowing’. WHAT I LIKE ABOUT DAIRY FARMING IS THAT YOU HANDLE THE COWS TWICE A DAY AND YOU GET TO KNOW THEM. You know the softies, the cheeky ones and you see the benefit every day when you look in the tank, so it’s an instant reward.
EMILY WILSON 23, BSc (Hons) Agriculture, Harper Adams University
IN SEPTEMBER MY PARTNER AND I WERE GIVEN A DAIRY TENANCY ON A STARTER FARM IN STAFFORDSHIRE. We have the tenancy for ten years and then there’s the chance to move into a progression farm, which will have a 20-year farm business tenancy.
I LOVE THE FARM AND IT HAS ENABLED US TO START FARMING BUT IDEALLY IT WILL NEED TO BE BIGGER TO SUPPORT BOTH OF US. I love working with livestock but I also really enjoy the crop side of things too and I’d like to get a career within agronomy. If I go out and get a career in crops I can give something back to our farm with the knowledge I have gained.
TO BE HONEST, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE ABLE TO GET A FARM AND I’D WRITTEN THE DREAM OFF. I always thought I’d work within the industry but never get the opportunity to farm in my own right. However, we applied for three dairy farms and got lucky on the third one.
THE ISSUE WITH MILK PRICES WAS A BIG WORRY AND A LOT OF PEOPLE TOLD US WE WERE VERY BRAVE. We are starting to feel the winter pinch a bit but the nice thing about agriculture is that you’re not the only one in the boat. If there’s poor weather everyone else is suffering from it. It’s a nice community and we’ve found that neighbouring farmers have all been willing to help us, as they’ve all been in the same position when starting up in agriculture.
IT WAS THE THIRD TENANCY WE HAD APPLIED FOR. When applying, you have to generate a business plan, a budget and produce three years’ worth of cash flows, so it took some working. Then, if you’re lucky, you get an interview – you’re up against four or five other applicants and the interviews are quite gruelling just because you know it’s competitive. Then you have to wait and find out. It’s quite a long process and getting everything ready takes quite a bit of time, but don’t let this put
WE THOUGHT WE’D FEEL REALLY ALONE, MOVING TO A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AREA BUT IT’S PROVEN TO BE QUITE THE OPPOSITE. It was worrying because we were moving house, changing lifestyle, job and location, so it was daunting, but people shouldn’t be put off because it is so exciting and very gratifying. We don’t regret it one bit – we knew it was always going to be challenging at first but we know we will look back in a year’s time and laugh!
JOSEPH WHEELER, Second year BSc Hons Agriculture, Royal Agricultural College The area of agriculture I am most interested in is the livestock sector, especially dairy. At the best of times, working with livestock is hard work, with dairy being one of the most labour and time consuming of them all. Mad you must be thinking, why spend long hours working in cold, wet conditions milking cows? Simple, I love it. Fields of wheat and other crops look very nice, and offer long skiing holidays throughout the winter months, but the dependency of stock upon the farmer and stockman offers rewards that cannot be obtained by any other means. Each cow has its own
personality and, like people, has bad days; when you work with these animals day in and day out you learn about each and every one as an individual. As well as the personal attachment to the animals, the livestock industry offers new challenges to young individuals who are keen to prove themselves. The recent controversy surrounding milk prices will only force the industry to step up production in a more efficient manner. These challenges will only increase with a growing world population eating a more westernised diet of meat and dairy products.
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ LIVESTOCK ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ I THINK SHEEP ARE THE BEST WAY TO START FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GO INTO LIVESTOCK. You don’t have to have a big gross margin to start it up. SHEEP AREN’T TOO MUCH WORK. It’s only really lambing time that it gets really busy. I’m hoping all the ewes will lamb within a two-week period this year. It will be intense for those couple of weeks, but it’s worth it as it’s really nice seeing the lambs – they might annoy you sometimes but it’s good!
MOLLIE GOODALL 17, Level 3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture (livestock option), Bridgwater College
I’VE BEEN INTERESTED IN AGRICULTURE FOR A WHILE. I grew up going to my grandad’s farm all the time. I ALWAYS AIMED TO GO INTO FURTHER EDUCATION AFTER SCHOOL. I knew I wanted to do something with animals, but I didn’t want to be a vet. I like agriculture – it sounds weird, but everyone in farming is more normal! NOW I’VE GOT 70 EWES OF MY OWN THAT I’M TRYING TO WORK UP. I want to build the flock up, maybe get some pedigree stock and I want to breed some lambs to start off with.
A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T LIKE SHEEP – THEY CAN ACT A BIT STUPID AT THE END OF THE DAY! I wouldn’t mind doing some relief milking too – I work at Bridgwater College’s farm at the weekends. And I wouldn’t mind going into beef, but bovine TB puts me off a bit at the moment – maybe in the future. THE SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT AT SEEING YOUR OWN STOCK BEING BROUGHT UP AND SOLD IS FANTASTIC. And animals are good to work with – every day is different. ONCE YOU’VE GOT YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR YOU CAN WORK YOUR WAY UP. I’m lucky because I’ve got a background in farming but some people haven’t got any whatsoever and I think they will find it hard if they want their own business.
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ POULTRY ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ I GREW UP ON THE FAMILY FARM IN BERKSHIRE. I didn’t intend to work on the farm and went off to university to study something completely different. It was only when I finished my degree that I realised I wanted to go into agriculture and work with my family.
TOM COPAS 26, Copas Turkeys
OUR FAMILY HAS FARMED IN THE VILLAGE FOR OVER 150 YEARS. Back then they farmed cattle but it has evolved over time with many different crops from potatoes to fruit. Now we farm 40,000 turkeys a year for the Christmas market. They are farmed extensively and are all processed on farm. We grow traditional turkey breeds in a traditional way to make them taste great. I AM THE OPERATIONS MANAGER ON THE FARM. I work on the turkey enterprise from September to February. We then do some estate work before we start to prepare for the summer events in April. It means that my role is really varied.
WE PRODUCE A REALLY STRONG PRODUCT BUT THE SUPERMARKETS ARE A CONCERN TO THE MARKET, ESPECIALLY WITH THE RECESSION. Luckily people tend to be traditional over the festive period and will return to their butcher to buy a turkey, even if they purchase the rest of their meat from the supermarket. The cost of feed has been an issue this year with the poor harvest but that is the same for all farmers. WE WILL CONTINUE TO ANALYSE WHAT WE ARE DOING AND EVOLVE AS NECESSARY. The farm has diversified and changed operations over the years to meet market demands. I am passionate about working for the family business and really proud of what we produce. ADVICE? Learn about the industry, understand what it is about and go for it!
✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ PIGS ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ focused on welfare and high standards. It’s one of the most important things that producers should focus on, because at the end of the day it is consumers that are buying the product and they care about welfare. EVERYONE IS MINDFUL OF WHAT THE CONSUMER WANTS. But there is the issue of price too – there has to be a balance. THINGS IN THE SECTOR ARE DEFINITELY UNCERTAIN AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE WORRIED. At the moment the price it costs to produce a pig and the price it is being sold for means farms are trading at a loss. And there’s only so long people can do that for.
TOM STOCKINGS, 22, BSc (Hons) Agriculture, Harper Adams University
MY FAMILY FARMS PIGS IN OXFORD AND THE SOUTH WEST. At our home farm we have about 5,000 finishing pigs, which are outdoor bred and then indoor finished. Welfare is a priority on the farm. ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE PIG INDUSTRY IS HOW QUICK EVERYTHING IS. It’s not like chickens, which is insanely quick, but you can see results a lot quicker. It’s changing all the time. And it’s good to be outdoors. That’s one of the beauties of having an outdoor-bred system – it’s good to see sows in their natural habitat. WITH ANIMALS, EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT. And it’s nice to work with something that has character. But pigs and livestock are completely different – they change continuously. They are very intelligent, but that makes things easier, if anything. ONE PIG IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM ANOTHER. One sow might be happy with you looking at her piglets, but another might go mad. The sows stay on the units for up to four to five years, so managers do get to know the individuals very well. It’s really important that while they’re in production they have a very good life. At the end of the day, we’re all going to die, but we all want to have a good time while we are here! ONCE YOU KNOW A PIG, YOU CAN MANAGE THEM ACCORDINGLY. Our company is really
OF COURSE, NO ONE’S SAYING YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE JUST ONE. BUT HOPEFULLY OUR CASE STUDIES WILL GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT IS GREAT ABOUT EACH INDIVIDUAL SECTOR
THE PRICE FOR PIGS IS GOING UP. However, the problem is it goes up very slowly and wheat prices have gone up like a rocket. ONE OF THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH FARMING PIGS IS THAT THERE IS RELATIVELY LITTLE SCOPE ON WHAT THEY CAN BE FED. Therefore you’re tied into buying concentrates, which are really expensive at the moment. In beef and sheep you can use alternative crops, grass or finish them extensively, but there is no escape route for the pig industry. BUT, ALL THAT ASIDE, IT’S DEFINITELY AN EXCITING SECTOR TO BE IN. It’s a very efficient way of producing meat but it’s also a nice atmosphere to work in. I think it’s going to be a very exciting sector to go into and the number of people entering it at the moment is quite low, so there are lots of opportunities. EVENTUALLY I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE FAMILY FARM BUT I’M KEEN TO GO OFF AND DO SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS. I worked on a mixed farm in Kent for my placement, which I really enjoyed. MY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT ENTERING THE PIG INDUSTRY? Do it! It’s going to be an exciting business to be in. There’s lots of scope for moving up the ladder quickly and there are plenty of training courses out there.
Need more information? Visit nfuonline.com for more details and the latest news from across the industry. And while you are deciding, why not take our fun quiz to see which sector suits you? The result may surprise you....
which sector IS RIGHT FOR YOU? START HERE ARE YOU BOTHERED BY THE HEADY STENCH OF DUNG?
ARE SLUGS THE BANE OF YOUR LIFE?
HORTICULTURE SHEARING: HAIRCUT OR SUMMER JOB?
EVEN GOT THE SPECIAL SHOES
STILL HOLDING OUT FOR A BBQ SUMMER TIDY HAIRCUT, TIDY MIND
DO YOU HAVE A ‘GLASS HALF FULL’ VIEW OF BRITISH WEATHER? WILL THE AGA IN YOUR KITCHEN BE USED FOR CAKES OR NEWBORN LAMBS?
PIGS TOASTY LAMBS
LIVESTOCK HELL NO!
EGG AND SOLDIERS EXPECT THE WORST
DO YOU WANT TO SPEND WINTERS BREACHING WATER TROUGHS OR SKIING?
VICTORIA SPONGE, PLEASE
DO YOU CONSIDER 4AM A LIE-IN?
BACON SANDWICHES OR EGG AND SOLDIERS?
DOES A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR HELP THE MEDICINE GO DOWN?
I’LL STICK TO SAVOURY
ALL ABOUT BREACHING
I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD
WIN Cheltenham Gold Cup tickets!
s prizes go, we think this one is a cracker. One very lucky #studentfarmer reader will win four tickets to Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham Festival on 15 March, courtesy of John Deere. But not just any tickets – Club Admission tickets, the best passes available, giving you access to the paddock and winners’ enclosure and the centre of the course by the final fence. Tempted?
A premier experience
At John Deere, we are always searching for highly motivated, passionate and skilled people to sustain our position as one of the world’s premier companies – recently ranked ahead of Ferrari, Harley Davidson and MasterCard in the annual Interbrand list of 100 Best Global Brands worldwide. For more than 25 years, John Deere has been offering work placements to sandwich course students. The programme runs every
year and is open to anyone studying a relevant degree course. Successful candidates generally join the company for 12 months, gaining invaluable real-life experience in a modern company. Placements are available at various locations throughout Europe in diverse fields, including sales and marketing, product support and advertising. In addition, the John Deere scholarship is a bonus package awarded to the student that we consider to have performed best during his or her work placement. If we decide to award the scholarship, the selected student will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 towards final year study costs plus dissertation support, a guaranteed job offer following graduation and financial help to pay off student debts. Full details of these and other career opportunities with John Deere are available on our website at www.johndeere.co.uk.
To enter email studentfarmer@ nfu.org.uk with the subject title ‘Cheltenham tickets’ and include your name, address and contact telephone number
Find your place
arming will need to deliver tens of thousands of new career opportunities over the coming years, if the industry is to fulfill its mission of producing more, while impacting less. And as farming becomes ever more diverse and technologically driven, many of these jobs will need skilled workers.
Making a start in farming isn’t easy these days; it never has been. But whether as farmers, farm workers, farm managers, vets, machinery engineers, agronomists, or any one of countless other land-based roles, the opportunities will be there. Here are two examples of individuals who have found a place for themselves within the industry.
NAME: Caroline Smith AGE: 25 JOB: Technical services specialist COMPANY: Dow AgroSciences UNI: Warwick COURSE: Biological Sciences Caroline grew up on a mixed farm but it wasn’t until she left home for university that she realised she missed agriculture. “It was a big part of me but I didn’t appreciate it until I left,” she said. An advert for a temporary field technician position at the Dow AgroSciences research and development site caught her eye. The interview process included a day out in the field, which “gave me a really good impression of the job I would be doing,” said Caroline. Within six months she had been offered a permanent job as a technical services specialist. “I get to talk to farmers everyday which I really enjoy.” There are a lot of opportunities for Caroline with Dow AgroSciences. “I don’t know where I am going to go next; I want to get more experience and learn more about the company. Wherever I want to go they will support me. “Agriculture is great because it is varied, seasonal, interesting and progressive. It is exciting to be in an industry that is changing at such a fast pace! “There are a lot of opportunities and many different jobs within the sector. You don’t have to want to be a farmer to be in the industry. It is a great career choice!”
NAME: David Gabbott AGE: 23 JOB: FM bioenergy account manager/ farm trader – minerals COMPANY: Feeds marketing, BOCM PAULS UNI: Nottingham COURSE: Animal Science I WANTED TO USE MY DEGREE SO I STARTED TO JOB HUNT AND RELIEF MILK AT THE SAME TIME. I saw the advert for the job at BOCM PAULS, but they asked for commercial experience – which I didn’t have. I thought the interview would be good practice and didn’t think I would get the job. I SUBMITTED AN APPLICATION AND WAS LUCKILY OFFERED AN INTERVIEW. I was honest about my skills and told them about my interests. For my second interview I had to present my ideas on how I could improve mineral sales and the company’s perception within the industry. I spent a lot of time preparing and thought about it from a farmer’s perspective. I LOOK AFTER MINERAL SALES FOR THE REGIONAL SALES TEAMS. I support the account managers in many ways, from marketing and coordinating campaigns, to diet specific problem solving and going out on farm. I also work in the bioenergy sector for FM Bioenergy, in anaerobic digestion. My roles tie in quite well together – AD is like a big metal cow! I like that my role is diverse – it keeps things varied for me. I REALLY ENJOY BOTH ASPECTS OF MY JOB AND WILL STAY IN THE INDUSTRY. I would like to farm but the reality is that it is very difficult and expensive to get into. There is an enormous network of jobs beyond the farm gate that you don’t necessarily see straight away. I THINK THE PERCEPTION OF FARMERS IS CHANGING AS THE INDUSTRY IS. You are getting a younger more technical generation coming through due to the greater amount of tools available to support the farmer. It is the smart farmer that will last and make money. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EVERYTHING AND GO FOR IT, ESPECIALLY WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG. Don’t think that you won’t be able to do something. You don’t have to be from a farm to work within the industry, experience isn’t everything.
CHOOSE YOUR PLACEMENT WISELY Tips and advice for securing that all-important placement
TOP TIPS TO SORT YOUR CV GET YOUR CV SORTED. ASK YOUR UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE’S CAREERS TEAM FOR HELP IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START Include your contact details. Think about setting up a new email address if your current one is along the lines of ‘partyanimal@ drinkup.com’
FIND SPELLCHECK USE IT
DON’T LIST ‘GOING OUT WITH FRIENDS’ OR ‘DRINKING’ AS INTERESTS
Step away from the scent – no one will be impressed if your CV smells like musty Lynx
DON’T MISS OUT IMPORTANT DETAILS – INCLUDE PREVIOUS JOBS (MOST RECENT FIRST) AND QUALIFICATIONS
Do try and set yourself apart from everyone else. Partial to a spot of Gregorian chanting? List it in your interests – you never know, it might help them remember you
INCLUDE AT LEAST TWO REFERENCES – MAKE SURE YOU GET THEIR CONTACT DETAILS RIGHT Don’t get creative – this isn’t the time to experiment with a new font
BE HONEST. LIES WILL CATCH UP WITH YOU EVENTUALLY DON’T PLONK YOUR CUP OF TEA ON YOUR CV BEFORE YOU SEND IT OFF – NOT A GOOD LOOK
Nor is it the time to put your handwriting to good use – always use your computer
Do your research. Once you know which companies you want to apply for, put Google to good use.
Think outside the box but stay within the law. You will require a visa to visit or work abroad.
Interviews are scary business. But they don’t have to be – simply do your research, think
Why not spread your wings? There are opportunities all over the world.
through answers to obvious questions and be yourself. Look smart, get an early night the day before and plan your route in advance. Be there in plenty of time and take along your CV, the invitation letter, a notepad and a pen.
If in doubt, get help – your careers office, tutor and lecturers will be able to help you out. And there’s lots of advice online: www.prospects.ac.uk www.targetjobs.co.uk www.fledglings.net
MEET LAMORNA She proved the sky’s the limit when it comes to placements… NAME: Lamorna Pascoe COURSE: BSc (Hons) Agriculture COLLEGE: Royal Agricultural College PLACEMENT COMPANY: Progene Seeds BASED: Zimbabwe for 20 weeks WHAT: Variety trials and research project APPLICATION: Cover letter and a CV, interview, project proposal LEARNED: Management skills, breeding techniques, researching skills, huge life experience LOVED: Responsibility – more available than in the UK MISSED: Cider! VERDICT: “If you get the opportunity to go abroad, seize it. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and learn something about another corner of the world.”
I WANTED TO GO TO AN AGRICULTURAL COLLEGE AND STUDY SOMETHING ANIMAL RELATED RATHER THAN ARABLE BASED. I am from a pig farm in Berkshire, so my specific interests are in farm animals. I keep my own flock of rare breed sheep back at home, which helps pay for my college fees!
FRAN LEDGERWOOD beat off stiff competition to secure a placement at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park
TO APPLY TO THE COTSWOLD FARM PARK I PUT FORWARD AN APPLICATION, HAD AN INTERVIEW AND TOUR AND THEN WE ORGANISED A DATE FOR ME TO START! During my placement I have learnt an awful lot about dealing with the public and I’ve learnt to milk a cow! I will have more of an understanding about different species when I go back to college; for instance, I didn’t know much about goats before. It has worked the other way too – I have been able to put into practice on the farm a lot of the welfare side of things I learnt at college.
I’m passionate about encouraging the next generation into farming – we need more young people joining the agricultural supply chain. It’s difficult to get hold of land nowadays but in the world of farming and agriculture there is a huge array of jobs to suit all interests. My advice for people getting into farming and agriculture is to study hard and go to university or agricultural college. Farming is so technological today and business is very important too – it is for bright, entrepreneurial business-minded people.
ADAM HENSON A REGULAR DAY STARTS WITH FEEDING AND CLEANING OUT THE ANIMALS. The park opens at 10.30am and there are talks and demos throughout the day. Later on in the afternoon we start to feed again, shut up and make sure the animals are all safe and secure for the night. I ENJOY DOING THE DEMOS AND I LIKE TO CHAT TO THE VISITORS. Sometimes they don’t know the difference between a chicken and a duck, whereas others have farm experience. You have to be quite adaptable in how you explain things to them, but it is great to talk to people who are really interested. But you can’t make it up, it is important to tell the visitor if you don’t know something! I WILL GO BACK TO COLLEGE NEXT SEPTEMBER, WHICH I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO. I am a bit scared about the workload because fourth year is worth 70 per cent. I THINK IT HAS BEEN OF BENEFIT TO ME DOING A PLACEMENT YEAR. I really enjoy talking to the public and teaching kids. It has pushed me further towards making a decision about what I want to do after university. ADVICE? Look around for a placement properly and really consider what you want to get from it – don’t just jump in.
ALASTAIR BLANT, display manager at the Cotswold Farm Park, reveals what he looks for WE LOOK FOR A PRACTICAL, POSITIVE ATTITUDE, SOMEONE WHO IS HAPPY TO
PROMOTE ‘PASSION IN BRITISH FARMING’. The student has to be able to deal with the public on a daily basis, therefore must be friendly and wear a smile! A background in livestock handling is useful but not essential.
I AM NOT ALWAYS LOOKING FOR QUALIFICATIONS. Someone with life experience and team skills who will really make a mark while they work with us is important.
THE APPLICATION FORM IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE I NEED THEM TO ENGAGE WITH ME WHEN I READ IT. I want to see their drive, passion and ambition for British farming and enthusiasm for working
as part of a team in a public-facing environment. THINGS TO AVOID? Coloured writing or a font that reminds me of someone who lives on a cloud. Perfumed or coloured paper.
Words: Patrick Barker
t is well documented and quite often thrown in farmers’ faces that wildlife in Britain, especially farmland birds, is still in decline and in many places it is. Personally, I do not appreciate being blamed for the mistakes of previous generations. I can hold my head up high and say that on our farm our crops yield very well, we are constantly improving our efficiency, reducing our fuel and fertiliser usage, generating our own electricity and our farm is bursting with wildlife. There are many reasons for the declines and I don’t pretend to have all the answers but as agriculture develops and responds to the demands placed upon it, many of our best-loved species will need a saviour and that knight in shining armour will be the next generation of farmers.
For decades farmers have responded to the demands of governments and the public. In the ‘30s, ‘70s and ‘90s the ever-increasing demand for food meant compromising the natural environment and was the cause for the decline in many species. We are the ones now picking up the pieces. The challenge for the next generation is three-fold: increase production, increase biodiversity and protect our natural resources. The ‘greening’ of the CAP, the availability of money for environmental stewardship schemes, the demand for environmental responsibility from the general public generated through television programmes like Springwatch and Countryfile, a love of all country pursuits, not only shooting, hunting and fishing but also geocaching, mountain biking and bird ringing all providing a real appreciation of the great outdoors, will shape the way we farm in the future.
It is inevitable that production has to increase. Advances in science, technology and changing weather patterns will give us all different opportunities to produce food. This has to be underpinned by foresight, flexible farming, sound business planning, sensible decision making, changing to modern agribusiness mind sets, plenty of good fortune and a sound education for aspiring farmers. Challenging conventional thinking and questioning ingrained routines is a great place to start. The phrase ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ is banned on our farm and there must be sound reasoning behind why things are done the way they are.
On our farm our philosophy is very simple; farm the good land as well as we possibly can and manage the marginal land as best as we possibly can for all of the farm’s wildlife. We have a ‘year round’ conservation approach to all our species and look to provide three things: all-year-round food supply, safe breeding and young rearing habitat and protection from people, predators and the weather. We now take as much pleasure in our wheat yielding at 10 tons per hectare as we do from a pair of barn owls fledging three chicks and our oil seed rape yielding five tons per hectare as we do from great crested newts breeding in all the ponds on one farm.
British farmers should be desperate to show the public how well we do what we do. We have many campaigns demonstrating that our produce is of the highest quality and that our livestock is kept to far higher welfare standards but we need to sell ourselves in a way that the British public can appreciate as a whole. Winning hearts and minds will come from British farming supporting British people, food, wildlife and the environment. If British farmers are going to keep their credibility with the British public in the future we need to be producing high quality, affordable food in a natural environment retaining its natural features and rich in wildlife. Quite a challenge but one that is most definitely achievable!
This is not a boring health and safety feature…. James Chapman lost his arm during an on-farm accident. This is a real story from a person who has learned real lessons the hard way. Read what he has to say – you never know, it could save your life….
Words: Rebecca Veale
Once upon a time... James grew up on a dairy farm but he knew from an early age that his first love would always be tractors. “I’d wanted to drive tractors since I can remember – farming is a lifestyle and not a job, it is in your blood.” He headed off to college to study a National Diploma in Agriculture, specialising in contracting in the second year. “I learnt new skills and ways of doing things but really enjoyed the social side,” said James. And the ‘poxy’ caravan he used as a base while studying proved the source of many funny tales…
An accident waiting to happen The course at college led James back to contracting work, “which meant I got to play with lots of big tractors!” But it was during this time that he went through a stage of having lots of accidents. Two cars, a baler fire, one teleporter in the canal and a barn fire later, most of the problems were down to faulty equipment and he was lucky to avoid serious injury. “Being young and inexperienced, I didn’t stand up and refuse to drive faulty machinery, so the NFU knew my name!” he said. “Then on a very cold January morning I had my big whoopsie.” James had set up his own contracting company and had gone out to work at a friend’s composting unit. It was so cold the batteries had gone dead on the machine so he was asked to pump out water from an underground tank. Someone questioned whether the pump was working. James stepped up to check, but the roll pin sticking out of the PTO shaft caught his high visibility vest. James’ clothes wrapped around the PTO shaft with his left arm and he went over the top of the tractor. “It was a good job that my friends were there – my phone was in my left pocket!” The air ambulance flew James to Selly Oak Hospital with his arm in a bin bag. “On my first helicopter ride they wouldn’t even let me look out of the window,” said James. James’s arm couldn’t be saved and only seven days later he was allowed home. Intensive physiotherapy and a skin graft followed, but the recovery process took a long time. It wasn’t an easy period for James: “Things weren’t that bad but they weren’t that good either. You have to realise that life goes on.” A friend dragging him to the pub snapped him out of his depression though and it wasn’t long before things really changed for James.
nfYFC James had been involved in NFYFC since he was 14 and chaired the local group at 17 but that’s where his involvement peaked. After the accident the group was supportive and James had more time available, so he was asked to be county chairman and later West Midland’s chairman. Then at an AGM he made the speech that got him noticed: “It was the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done. I was very nearly violently sick before, during and after it!” James stood for NFYFC vice chairman and was elected and then two years later he became chairman. “It opened a lot of doors for me and I loved it. My confidence grew, I met a lot of fantastic people,
went to some fantastic places and it was NFYFC that got me involved in the HSE campaign, Make the Promise,” James added.
Make the Promise As you may have noticed, James tells his story with a great deal of humour – but the message behind it carries great significance. “I am not a promoter of health and safety; that would be hypocritical,” he said. “Working on a farm is dangerous – people must think about what they are doing so they don’t make the mistakes I did.” James has told his story to many and will continue to ask people to learn from his mistake. “We all take risks; it is about gauging those risks and knowing what the possible consequences are. I was lucky, it affected my family for a short time but I am still here. There are some not as fortunate as me,” he added.
Message to young farmers James’ message to young farmers is simple: think about what you are doing, before rushing in. “Accidents will always happen when you are most stressed or pushed, when things aren’t going right and there are pressures (such as time, weather or financial),” James said. “When all those things come together, that is when accidents happen. Take your time, think about it and don’t be afraid to say something if you think it is dangerous. You can always find another job but once you have lost something it is gone.”
Royalty calls….. The work James has done to make people think about the risks they take has not gone unnoticed. “Winning Farmers Weekly Farming Champion 2011 was a proud moment,” he said. “I have never done anything for recognition but it is was nice to get that kind of acknowledgement.” In April 2012, a rather official letter landed on the doormat. “I thought it had something to do with tax – but it turned out to be an MBE!” In November, James went with his parents and fiancée Anna to Buckingham Palace to receive his award. James was unsure about whether cracking a joke with royalty was the done thing before the trip but “although my tact and diplomacy are not great I managed to avoid being thrown in the Tower!”
Here, now and beyond Today, James works on a farm in Warwickshire and gets to play with the big tractors he loves so much. There is not much he is unable to do because of his injury: “There are challenges on the farm and in life but once you have got cross and frustrated you adapt – because you have to,” James added. Looking to the future, there is no formal plan yet, but one thing’s for certain: “I’m never going to get bored of farming. I always tell people that I want to rule the world and young farmers was the first step!” So watch this space….
You are what you tweet Having an online presence is vital in today’s digital world. But where to start? Maybe you’re on Facebook for fun and Twitter for following famous people? If that sounds like you, you’ve made a good start – but you’re just skimming the surface. Maybe you’ve yet to take the plunge? Well get ready to dip your big toe in the water – here’s some information on the various sites and what type of people they suit.
Facebook Perfect for… nosy people The original social network (unless you count MySpace, and we don’t). Facebook has revolutionised the way we interact with our friends. And we don’t just mean posting unflattering pictures of them on nights out and updating their status when they forget to log out. It’s full of groups, fan pages and organisations. Keep in touch with people and ‘like’ pages about things you’re interested in. The best page? The #studentfarmer Facebook group. Find us at facebook.com/StudentFarmer.
When tweeting, you’re subject to the same libel laws as a journalist – therefore, if you accuse someone of something, insult them or express extreme views, you could end up regretting it. Don’t think you’re safe just because you haven’t named someone – narrow down your allegations to a group, and they could all sue you. And repeating libel is just as bad – so be careful what you retweet. If you’re in doubt about a tweet, then don’t tweet it. It’s that simple. And remember – potential employers may look for you on Facebook and Twitter, so keep that in mind when selecting your profile photo and tweeting about what you got up to at the weekend!
TWITTER Perfect for… chatterboxes Wish you could update your Facebook status every ten minutes? Maybe you do – your friends probably love you for it. Well, that’s why Twitter was invented. It’s a brilliant networking tool; follow people in the industry and get involved in discussions – you never know where they might lead.
instagram Perfect for… people of few words Prefer pictures to words? Instagram uses filters to turn even the most amateur photos into works of art. If you want to let people into your life without tweeting, blogging or Facebooking, then go for this: simply use hashtags in each photo’s description. You can link Instagram to Twitter and/or Facebook and share your images with your followers and friends. If you’ve been on our Facebook page you won’t have failed to notice that we are big Instagram fans (search for ‘studentfarmer’).
Linkedin Perfect for… job hunting It’s strictly business only on LinkedIn. A good tool for professional networking, this website allows you to make connections with people with whom you have some level of professional relationship. This, in turn, gives you the chance to showcase your CV and discover potential business opportunities.
lobbying of the national government for farming issues. We operate as the first point of call for other departments and members who wish to know more about what’s happening in Parliament and for MPs and Peers who want to know more about the NFU’s position on certain issues. We also work closely with the regional branches to coordinate lobbying at a local as well as national level. We deal with all issues that can affect our members, so what we do can be pretty varied; one week we’re preparing a brief for a debate on the Agricultural Wages Board, the next we’re submitting evidence to a committee investigation on dangerous dogs. We even have an input into legislation formation, such as the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill that’s currently going through Parliament. In order to do this effectively we have to keep up good relations with MPs and government officials, so that they trust us to provide them with the facts and take on board our position. My own role as parliamentary assistant has much more of a monitoring brief. My average day tends to focus on looking through future business to flag up any debates or committee meetings that we need to look at and trawling through parliamentary business to note what’s been said on relevant issues. This information is then circulated through the NFU so that the different departments are kept up to date. Working in Westminster isn’t as glamorous as some imagine: it’s less about champagne receptions and more committee meetings and short deadlines. However, it’s also incredibly interesting as you cover anything and everything that is relevant to farming and farmers. It is also incredibly important. As you’ll no doubt be aware there are endless rules and regulations on issues from animal welfare to muck spreading, as well as legislation on rural broadband and renewable energy. Decisions made in Westminster can directly affect the profitability and viability of farming in this country so it’s only right that they have a united voice influencing policy; although often our most powerful tool is the members themselves directly contacting their local representatives.
Oliver Savory Parliamentary assistant, NFU government and parliamentary affairs office I graduated in 2011 with a BA (Hons) in Politics from Newcastle University. You may be wondering why I’m writing for a farming magazine, but I work in one of those aspects of farming that isn’t farming at all: political lobbying for the NFU. I never thought I’d end up working for the farming industry; born and raised in south London I was a self-confessed urbanite with a mild phobia of livestock (it’s the way that cows stare at you), so I didn’t specifically look for jobs in rural affairs. However, after the sort of year that many graduates face, of unpaid internships and endless rejections, the job advert for this position came up and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to marry personal interest (politics) and family history (my grandfather was a mixed farmer from Norfolk and NFU bigwig). Now, a few months in, I can share with you what I’ve learned about what the government and parliamentary affairs office does, my role and our greater role in farming. Here in Westminster the GPA office helps coordinate all
Rebecca Wells Assistant European policy adviser, British Agriculture Bureau I always wanted to be a farmer. Not being from an agricultural background my mother told me that my only hope was to marry one. She had never heard of agricultural college and neither had my school careers adviser so off I went with all the other grammar school kids to an academic university to study an academic course. Four years later I had a BA in Geography (yawn), an Environmental MSc and a better idea of how to infiltrate the agricultural sector. The marriage plot still hasn’t paid off but I’m working on it. Along the way I picked a bit of fruit and undertook some work experience at Hadlow College farm and when the position of assistant environmental policy adviser came up at the NFU my submersion into agriculture really took off. A little over two years later I packed my suitcase for the bright lights of Brussels where I have been now for three months. The British Agricultural Bureau (BAB) represents all the UK farming unions – NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union. Our purpose is to represent UK farmers in European policy-making and to fight for the best deal for the UK. On occasion this involves the arduous task of hobnobbing with MEPs and Commission officials over the odd glass of wine and
“Our purpose is to represent UK farmers in European policy-making and to fight for the best deal for the UK” some rather posh canapés (perk of the job). My portfolio covers the pig and poultry sectors, environment, climate change, food labelling, farm assurance and bees. At present I am busy ensuring origin labelling legislation results in labels on meat showing country of origin of the animal. I am also working with other compliant countries to put pressure on the Commission to ensure that those member states that fail to comply with the partial sow stall ban by the deadline of 1 January 2013 are not allowed to benefit from their associated lower costs of production and thereby outcompete British pork. You would be surprised at how much European policy-making affects UK farms, especially in the areas that aren’t immediately related to agriculture. A recent victory for BAB
was in a vote in the Parliament on quad bikes (ATVs). There were plans to bring in new rules for ATVs and motorbikes, but our lobbying enabled ATVs to be classified in the same group as other agricultural vehicles instead. Without this seemingly small measure there was a real chance that farmers would be unable to use quad bikes as usual on farm (there were restrictions on speed for instance – not handy for rounding up sheep) and a possibility that manufacturers would simply stop making quads for agricultural use because of the expensive new rules. As I write this, it’s almost Christmas, which means we’ve swapped receptions at Parliament for mulled wine and mince pies in rather cosier locations. Christmas parties provide the perfect opportunity for getting to know more about what makes our European agricultural counterparts tick – I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that the Swedish farmers’ union held their reception in a mini replica of Ikea.
DID YOU KNOW.... T
hat NFU student members get their very own login to NFUonline, giving them VIP access to an exclusive range of downloadable reference material, perfect for getting the edge at college? That NFU student members are entitled to receive the NFU’s newsletters and NFU Bulletin delivered direct to their inbox? You won’t find them being out of touch with the latest farming news. That NFU student members get some brilliant money-saving benefits? Discounts at days out such as Alton Towers, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, money off when booking holidays with Cottages4you, cheaper airport parking and reduced courses are just some of the ways you can save pennies with the NFU. Well, now you know. DID YOU ALSO KNOW THAT IT IS ALL COMPLETELY, TOTALLY FREE? If you know a complete bargain when you see one, sign up for NFU student membership by using the easiest process in the world: 1. P ut your full name, date of birth, home address, term address, mobile number, email address, college and course in an email. 2. Give it the subject ‘#studentfarmer’. 3. Send it to email@example.com Easy peasy, eh?
MARKET YOURSELF Resist stereotypes. Make your own rules. Put the kebab down.
t’s no secret that your diet can suffer when you go to university. Late night portions of chips and cheese take their toll, and having the occasional drink probably doesn’t help either. Here’s the exception to the rule. Students at the University of Nottingham have turned their backs on the kebab van and embraced locally farmed British produce. Their farmers’ market takes place every month on the university’s Sutton Bonington campus and is run by students, for students. But it’s not just the students that love it. The enterprise was named Market of the Year at the BBC Food and Farming Awards; a huge achievement considering the market was only created in 2011. The idea was originally the brainchild of four pHD students, who wanted to get a few stalls on site. Fast-forward two years and the market hosts 35 local food producers, is packed full of students and the market has its own organising committee. President of the Farmers Market Society of Sutton Bonington, Adeel Khan, said that the market is hugely popular with both students and members of the public. “Everyone loves it. The café on site hates us because we take all of their customers away one Wednesday every month! Everyone comes across for lunch and now we have lots of members of the public coming along too, as we flier all the villages and put posters up everywhere,” he said.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere on the Sutton Bonington campus – all these people produce local food around us, but there was no way for us to get at it. As a campus we really like our food, we’re all very aware of what we’re eating and where it comes from and we prefer local produce. Students love the market – there’s a reason why we have so many burger stands! And it’s great that students get to mix with the local community, as we all move to nearby villages in our second and third years.” One of the judges for the BBC Food and Farming awards was chef Valentine Warner, who was impressed by the food on offer. “It was well thought out and offered an impressive variety of produce to the students — some of which I was surprised to see, but delighted to know they were buying,” he said. “What I also liked is that where the stall owners were giving student discounts it was still worth it for them as the market was supported by so many students. It was very encouraging to see everyone selling out. “The Sutton Bonington Farmers’ Market was well organised, very friendly and very forward thinking — a fun day out as well as a good place to learn more about ingredients.”
What we liked The interaction between students, market traders and local residents. No town v gown here. The variety of food on offer and the prices – perfect for students’ budgets. The emphasis on local and British food, right on students’ doorsteps – no need to lug shopping bags around the bus or your bike. The bouncy castle. Enough said.
“As a campus we really like our fo od, we’re all very aware of what we’re eating and where it comes from and we prefer local produce. Students love the market – there’s a reason why we have so many burger stands!”
Got a great idea? Why wait until you’ve finished university? These students didn’t…
Find me a tractor
Two students set up a unique business after a piece of coursework highlighted a gap in the market. Robert Fitzjohn and William Dalrymple established findmeatractor.co.uk after a project about kitting out a farm in Hungary revealed how long it takes to research machinery. The website was set up within a week and the pair now track down the perfect piece of kit for farmers who don’t have the time to conduct a search for themselves. “It was five or six weeks before we had our first sale. It felt pretty good – we were elated and relieved!” said Robert. The pair’s biggest challenge was input costs, as they started out with next to nothing. “Our biggest initial cost was the website. But we have made contacts within the industry that are building on our database – our name is getting out there,” Robert added. Both are in their final year of studying BSc (Hons) Agricultural Management at RAC and admit that juggling the demands of their course together with the business can be tough. “We are in our final year so we want the business to tick over until we are able to commit fully after university,” said Robert. “We never have and never will miss a lecture for the business. College comes first because we only have one chance to do this. Although we still manage to party – dealers close at 5pm!” Trusting young people is something the pair passionately believe in and is something they think needs to be embraced throughout the industry. “The industry is being pushed massively by the government and organisations but at the farm end there is still a barrier,” Robert said. “Some people will never trust someone that is young. But actually teaching someone to do something is an investment – it will pay dividends because it encourages trust and responsibility. They are the future of agriculture.”
Really Porky Pies
Harper Adams University students Paula Lobb and Michelle Evans set up their business after coming up with a novel product idea. “Everyone sells cupcakes, so we thought we would produce pork pies,” Michelle said. “But not normal pork pies – we wanted to do something with a twist. “ So Really Porky Pies was born, with production based on campus at the Regional Food Academy. The product line was launched at a Christmas farmers’ market, where the pair sold out in just a few hours. “We wanted to do something in our spare time that would be relevant to our future careers in the food industry,” Michelle said. “Ingredients are sourced locally where possible, but what makes Really Porky Pies special is the fact the pork is actually from my family farm. “Together we’re involved in all stages of production, from product development through to cooking and then selling.” The enterprise has given the pair new skills and experience, which they hope will give them the edge when they start applying for placements. “I’ve spoken to previous students who have had ideas for businesses, but they haven’t really committed to them – but with us its all go, go, go!” Paula said. A lot of the business’ success is down to social media and the pairs’ advice to other students setting up a business is to not underestimate the importance of sites such as Twitter. “Market traders have suggested we sell at their markets – and that’s all through Twitter,” Michelle said. “We don’t want people to think ‘this is just another small business students have set up’ – we want people to take us seriously,” she added. “At the end of the day, we’re a business.”
STUDENT HOUSING TIPS KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. FIND THE PERFECT HOUSE.
25982 Take meter readings the day you move in and out
MAKE SURE YOU get a TV LICENCE
Pick your location carefully. IS it near campus, shops and pubs? Are there transport links?
Have a tenancy agreement with the landlord and read it before you sign it
know your rights Take pictures of the house when you move in and Furniture has to move out. Your deposit be fire proof Don’t forget the should be fridge, cooker protected by and kitchen a tenancy deposit cupboards! protection scheme
You must have smoke alarms FITTED
Landlords must have permission to enter the house 24 hours before they visit
Appliances must be PAT tested – check for labels on the plugs!
Be considerate of the neighbours
£££££ Know what is included in your rent
Keep it clean!
If you don’t know, ask! The landlord or accommodation office will be able to help
You are exempt from paying council tax as a full-time student but you will need to fill in a form
Don’t forget to put your wheelie bin out
Useful websites www.depositprotection.com www.direct.gov.uk www.nus.org.uk
T O FA R M , O R N O T T O FA R M ?