UK agricultural leader shares his vision with U.S. farmers

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, July 9, 2013- Agricultural leaders wanting to bring young people into farming with skills in communication and policy could consider a model established by an English counterpart and founder of the Henry Plumb Foundation.

A former Warwickshire farmer and later a Member of Parliament, Lord Henry Plumb told a group of Illinois Farm Bureau members on their 2013 EU Animal Care Study Tour that he wanted to leave a legacy in the form of providing opportunities for young farmers.

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“I wanted to help young people into farming whether they have a degree or not,” he said, explaining that his Foundation will accept members, generally those between ages 18 and 35, if they show a passion for improving agriculture and possess some natural communication skills.

 
 

Officially launched in October 2012, the Foundation's goal is to raise £2 million to provide scholarships and a mentoring network for young farmers. One of the key aims is to “encourage and mentor young agricultural entrepreneurs who without such help would have difficulty in achieving their goals.”

Plumb served as a Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1999, and later as president of the European Parliament, from 1987 to 1989. He also founded the International Food and Agriculture Trade Policy Council, which promotes open and equitable international agricultural trade.

In his later years, he decided to focus his efforts on assisting young farmers to succeed as he did, particularly in a world of increasing population and decreasing numbers of farmers. The Henry Plumb Foundation is an enterprise conducted between Plumb and a team of eight influential friends he's made over the years.

Plumb noted that he believes “we are in a new era for agriculture.”

“Public and political opinion is more supportive than in recent decades and the industry has a real opportunity to take its place at the top table,” he insisted. “Young entrepreneurs will be vital.”

Providing the means for young farmers to learn “the importance of understanding regional, global and political influences on food production policy” is a key aim of the foundation.

Mentoring positions are a staple in operation of the foundation. Plumb said he has had “stacks and stacks” of mentoring applications, all given by potential mentors willing to work without compensation or travel reimbursements.

Helping young farmers to present ideas that will become part of the public policy driving food and agricultural development is integral to the future of the United Kingdom's agricultural industry, as well as to the efforts of global agriculture in feeding a growing population, he said.

In addition to improving communication skills, the foundation helps you farmers understand strong leadership principles and obtain post-graduate training and other learning opportunities.

“It's going to work,” he says.

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