Name? Richard Bower
From? Staffordshire (UK)
Organisation? NFYFC/NFU (Chair of NFU Next Gen)
How did you get into farming? I was born into it. I grew up with my grandparents and father being farmers so I always knew this is what I wanted to do. However, my parents told me there was no money in farming and that I should go and work for the supermarkets. I studied for a degree in food marketing with business studies. I always knew I was going to return to the family farm, but my degree opened my eyes to how supply chains work. I think we need professionals all along the supply chain and farmers are the professionals at the start of that.
Are you the head of the holding? If so, at what age did you start/take over the farm, and from whom? No, my father is. We work together.
How did you get into young farmer representation? I did a degree and a graduate scheme. After my studies, I returned to the family farm in 2011. I’d always been part of young farmers’ clubs, but more from a social point of view. Once I started making management decisions on the farm I realised how politics influences everything we do. I got involved with the NFU Next Gen in June 2014 and was elected Chairman in October 2014.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? I would like to be running a large and diverse farming business. I can see the benefit employing good managers and growing the business together. A lot of consolidation has happened naturally and it will keep happening I think. I also believe in the power of collaboration and working with other farmers.
How many young farmers are in your Member State? In England and Wales there are 30,500.
What do you think about the post-2020 CAP, and how do you see it affecting you and other young farmers in your Member State? I see this as a massive opportunity. It’s good that Commissioner Hogan is speaking about generational renewal. The young farmer top-up in the last reform was a big step forward. Hopefully this is the start of more mechanisms for young farmers across Europe.
What are the most popular types of farm for young farmers in your Member State and why? Livestock farming such as sheep can be easier for young farmers to get involved in due to the start-up costs. In England and Wales there is quite a diverse spread across the sectors, from livestock to cereals to horticulture and sugar.
What are the biggest barriers to entering the sector in your Member State? High start-up costs and low margins make it difficult for new entrants, but also for the older generation to step away.
What recent achievements has your organisation accomplished? The NFU elected its first female President and was very proud to host the CEJA working group and seminar on Brexit at the beginning of March.
How many young farmers does your organisation represent and what kind of services does it provide its young farmer members? It represents 30,500 farmers. The NFYFC has their agriculture and rural issues steering group, an events and marketing group, a competitions group, a personal development section (to help young farmers develop skills) and a youth forum. The NFU Next Gen is purely a lobbying group and collaborates directly with the NFYFC, specifically the agriculture and rural issues steering group.