At a time when many of us have read some of the recent doom and gloom headlines you could be forgiven for thinking that the writing is on the wall for farming in the UK.
But at Rural Insurance we take a different view. We see a rural economy that’s brimming with opportunity. Supporting over 7 million jobs and home to more start-ups than anywhere outside London, the British countryside is a vibrant place. And agriculture is at its beating heart. Yes, it’s a sector that is undoubtedly going through change – but those who are adapting, innovating and diversifying are thriving.
And while farmers of all ages are adapting and diversifying, this is particularly true of the new generation of farmers as they bring new skills, technologies and ways of working to the industry.
They’re the future of farming – and that’s why earlier this month we we’re delighted to sponsor the Young Farmer of the Year award at the Yorkshire Post Rural awards evening. With over 270 people in attendance the event was a great success recognising the expertise and talent that Yorkshire has to offer to the UK farming industry.
Managing Director, Richard Skingle presented the award to Josh Lawn the winner of the Young Farmer of the Year award. Josh is 18 and works on the family dairy, beef and sheep farm in Cullingworth, West Yorkshire. We caught up with him to find out more about the family business and his passion for farming.
What do you like most about farming?
I like just about everything about farming especially bringing new life in to the world such as lambs and calves, and also working alongside family and friends.
What do you like least about farming?
There is nothing I don’t like about farming there might be bad days but, overall they don’t count because it wouldn’t be farming without them.
How did you first get involved in showing your sheep?
My first experience was when I showed cattle at young farmers shows. A friend asked me to help them show their sheep and ever since then I have loved it.
Do you attend all shows across the UK? And which is your favourite?
Each year I go to around 12-15 shows across Yorkshire but next year we’re hoping to go further afield and attend more shows in the north of the county.
My favourite shows are Bingley and Lothersdale YFC show which are two events local to our farm. The people here are very friendly and are always willing to help you if needed.
Why do you attend the shows? What do you like most about showing?
I attend shows to build awareness about my name and the quality of my sheep, so I can try achieve better prices when it comes to the sheep sales. It also acts as a break from working at home and gives me a chance to socialise with others – plus it’s always nice to win isn’t it!
What does the future hold for you?
I’d like to build on our previous achievements and focus on expanding the farm and the quality of our stock, so we can grow the business and keep the farm running.
What role do you think young people play in the future of farming?
I think young people hold a very strong role in farming as they bring new ideas to the industry, although we can still learn from the experience of the older generation within the farming community.
What would you say to anyone thinking about a career in farming?
The best thing to do is to knuckle down and just try to push forward with your ideas. There might be some big blockages along the way but it’s worth the wait to see the results at the end.
Having been brought up on a family farm Josh has been interested in farming since a young age. Working alongside his dad they milk 80 Friesian Cross Holsteins, have 20 Hereford Cross and Angus Cross suckler cows, as well as a flock of 80-90 sheep. Josh’s main area of focus is the sheep flock which he’s built up on his own over for the past 4 years. The flock is made up of Charollais’s, Mules, Suffolk Cross Mules and Beltex’s, and he aims to breed nearly all their replacement stock. With a passion for showing, Josh has successfully established the Manywells flock of pedigree and pure Suffolk’s which have won a number titles in the show rings across Yorkshire in the past 2 years. He’s also had success in the cattle rings with his Myrestone Herd of pedigree Herefords.
The judges said Josh won the award for his 'old head on young shoulders' attitude to farming - at only 18 years of age he has already taken on additional work as a contract sheep shearer and is developing a solid reputation for quality Suffolk sheep having won at many agricultural shows in the past two years. He understands the concept of using agricultural show success to promote his animal husbandry that in turn leads to better prices a market.
At Rural we see supporting and recognising farmers like Josh a key part in what we do, and it’s something we’ll continue to do going forward. It’s clear that Josh is passionate about what he does, and we wish him the best of luck for the future!