On Friday 15 June, Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham and Stuart Roberts, Vice President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) met with the future generation of agricultural and environmental workers at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus, located just outside of Newcastle.
Students had the chance to forward questions and to outline highlights of their studies at the Kirkley Hall campus, where the 200-acre estate encompasses farm, extensive gardens, woodland, state-of-the-art classroom and IT facilities in addition to the College’s upland Carlcroft Farm that is located in the Cheviot Hills.
MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman, chaired the question and answer session and discussed his personal experiences within the field of equestrian as well as his work within his rural constituency.
Guy said: “Northumberland College provides a wide range of fantastic opportunities and it was great to hear first-hand from students and college leaders.”
The event follows the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consultation on the future for food, farming and the environment resulting from Brexit.
The National Farmers Union represents more than 55,000 farmers and growers and its Vice President encouraged students to take up work experience opportunities with local landowners.
Agriculture employs nearly 500,000 people in the UK and is a key part of the food and drink industry, which contributes £112 billion to the economy. Agriculture also accounts for over 70% of land use in the UK.
Jacqui Henderson, Chair of Governors at the College, said: “Northumberland College provides courses from entry level to Honours Degree and students are involved in a wide array of projects from animal care to environmental projects. This event was a welcome opportunity to showcase the vital role education and training plays in the agricultural sector and to hear students’ views.”
Ian Clinton, Principal of Northumberland College, said: “Our farms are home to a 1,200 strong flock and a growing pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd.
“Only 3% of UK farmers are under the age of 35 and 30% are 65 or older, so the younger generation really are key.”
Abbie Daglish, aged 20, from North Shields, who is studying Level 3 Agriculture, said: “I’m really enjoying my studies and I am looking forward to a farming career.
“It was great to draw attention to the work of the College and to explain some of our course highlights, which have included taking part in lambing.”
To find out more about courses at Northumberland College please visit www.northumberland.ac.uk