THE challenge of finding a route into agriculture for new entrants will be in the spotlight at Devon County Show this week when the county’s young farmers host the event’s prestigious agri-debate.

The discussion, titled ‘To Farm or Not to Farm: Are there enough opportunities for the next generation in agriculture?’, promises to provoke lively discussion from a panel of industry experts.

Sponsored by NFU Mutual and hosted by the Devon YFC, the debate will focus on the difficulties for many would-be farmers keen to make a career in the industry.

Phoebe Ridley, from NFU Mutual South West, said: ‘Through the work of many of our farming clients, we see the changes affecting agriculture and strongly support the need for new entrants to get a foothold in the industry. We are really proud to sponsor Devon YFC and be part of this debate.’

The panellists for the debate, which is always one of the highlights of the Devon County Show, are Peter Reed from SKERN Training and Skills; Liz Warner, County Council tenant farmer and on the county council board to recruit new tenants; Devon Young Farmers Agricultural Chair Megan Broom and Sam Briant-Evans, Director of Agriculture at Clinton Devon Estates.

Megan Broom said: “The competition for land is intense as the money people can make from non-farming activities has grown hugely. But there is no shortage of young people wanting to start a farming business. We’re really hoping some interesting and useful solutions come out of this debate.’

The debate will be chaired by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon, who has a long and distinguished background in agriculture and land management and is the chairman of the Devon Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

‘I have been involved in trying to get new entrants into the industry for some time – it is really important to give them all the help that we can,’ he added.

‘I enjoy hosting the agricultural debate with the young farmers – we always have a bit of fun as well as serious debate and I am really looking forward to this year’s discussions.’