Perhaps this is the view taken by the department of education which has decided that a BTec national diploma in agriculture, a recognised qualification, will no longer be included in school league tables next year, and won’t be counted as the equivalent to a GSCE. Thus downgrading agriculture as a career.
It is probably time that ministers and Civil Servants get out more. If ventured onto farms across in the country, they would find some of the most intelligent, innovative and capable people running businesses efficiently and effectively. And unlike the department of education, these businesses have arrived in the 21st Century
It does however appear that the general public are becoming increasingly aware that this historic stereotype farmer is a myth. They are sharp businessmen and women who have to be multi-talented to run today’s farm businesses. They essentially understand about finance, computers, world markets, engineering, biodiversity, soil management, biology, agronomy, veterinary and animal husbandry, and much more besides.
Some of the brightest people I know are farmers. There are of course exceptions but they are few and far between. It is encouraging to know that increasingly agriculture is viewed as a serious career option for both men and women interested in technology, engineering, and science.
Food production in the 21st century is progressive, challenging and vital, as the need to ensure its security is driven up the agenda, and it is attracting dynamic young people into the industry.
Farmers today cannot operate without computers, and GPS is used for their driverless tractors. They strive to advance the performance of their livestock with breeding programs, health management and feeding regimes. Arable farmers aim to improve their yields through soil and crop management, all of which involves science.
Farming and agricultural based industries as a career option should be promoted to our top students and many more besides, not viewed as a last resort.
This week is the 56th anniversary of the opening of the first commercial nuclear power station at Sellafield. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Owen Paterson chose last week to raise the matter of the Climate Change Act, which has made the UK the only EU country which is now legally bound to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, which is he says “entirely unrealistic”.
Mr Paterson questions the subsidies for renewables of £3 billion a year, most of which goes towards ‘useless wind farms’, paying landowners and investors, while increasing energy bills substantially for households and businesses. It is a known fact that onshore and offshore wind turbines are unreliable and incapable of producing enough power to replace traditional power supplies, as other European countries have already found to their cost.
The former environment secretary also raised the inadequacies of solar power, pointing out, as if he needed to that, “it is a non-starter as a significant supplier …… and will remain so as long as our skies are cloudy and our winter nights remain long.”
His aim to promote a four-point plan to lower UK carbon emissions includes the rapid development of shale gas – “the UK is sitting on one of the richest shale deposits in the world”. The widespread use of small, localised nuclear reactors; similar to the one in the centre of Derby. And a network of gas-fired combined heat and power plants which can deliver 92 per cent efficiencies.
His call to repeal the Climate Change Act and head in this more realistic direction with a more achievable outcome for carbon reduction, will not only keep the lights on, it will also make the environment lobby which has had its snout in the trough for years, see their funding stream dry up rapidly. Good for Owen Paterson! It will be interesting to see if the government is prepared to turn the ‘ship’ around and head it in this new direction, or have they already sold their souls to the lucrative environment industry?
The streets of our towns and cities are sadly full of disaffected people of all ages with varying degrees of disability who have nothing to do. Not all but many would take your hand off if offered a regular job.
Lord Freud’s choice of words was unfortunate but he was right to say he would think about the problem, and find a way for employers to circumnavigate the minimum wage, for those who cannot compete with able applicants.
Many of these people are already supported by the state or their families. If employers are willing to offer jobs to those with special needs or a physical disability, they should be encouraged to do so. If the State can top up their wages that would be a bonus, but what a difference it would make to give these people a purpose for getting up in the morning, a sense of dignity and fulfilment and some money in their pockets which they have earned.
Carola Godman Irvine