This article by Mark Suthern, Chair of FCN’s Board of Trustees, has been adapted from FCN’s Annual Report (April 2021 – March 2022)
UK agriculture is undergoing some of the most significant changes it has seen in the last fifty years. Change is often scary, challenging and takes considerable time to implement. But change is also exciting – it is how we innovate, create new opportunities and adapt to changing circumstances.
Over the last couple of years we have all been reminded of the importance of reliable supply chains and systems of food production. Labour shortages, high input costs and the growing energy crisis to name but a few have put significant pressure on farmers from across all sectors. We especially feel immense sadness for our friends in Ukraine and other countries impacted by war. We hope and pray for an end to this conflict and for the safety and health of all those affected.
The way our industry looks ten years from now could be considerably different from how it looks today. We must work together to ensure agriculture and its associated professions attract the best talent, and is seen as being a desirable, profitable and rewarding industry to work in.
There should be a place for everyone in agriculture, including those taking their first steps into farming and those who have farmed for many years. Generational family farms remind us all of the strong farming tradition across the UK, and the ongoing legacy many families are continuing to build upon. In addition, new entrants should be empowered to enter our industry and mentored and equipped with the skills and knowledge required to succeed and flourish.
We are delighted in FCN to be playing our part in creating a more inclusive and accessible industry in the work that we do. We are championing diversity and inclusivity within our charity; we are making conscious efforts to work with a wide range of people from different walks of life; and we are actively involving ourselves in schemes and initiatives to bring people into our industry who may not be from farming backgrounds. Greater education of the public and further collaboration is necessary in creating a thriving agricultural industry that is respected and understood by all.
Connecting and empathising with others is a significant part of what we do within FCN. Our dedicated volunteers are trusted to ‘walk with’ farmers, who let us into their lives and share with us the pressures they may be under. We are privileged to be in the position we are in and have been described as a ‘lifeline’ by those we have helped.
I would like to sincerely thank all of those who work with our charity, as well as everyone who supports us and raises awareness. As we continue to grow as a charity, we hope that you will continue to walk alongside us on this journey, helping to ensure that everyone in our essential industry is able to thrive now and in the years to come.