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Volume 495: debated on Friday 3 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to encourage young people to (a) remain in farming and (b) take up farming as a career. (283609)

Fresh Start, an industry-led initiative supported by Government, helps train new entrants to the farming industry. There are 24 Fresh Start Academies, with more in the pipeline, focusing on developing business skills for new farmers.

DEFRA provides funding to support the activities of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs which work with young people, aged 10-26, with an interest in rural issues. The clubs offer young people a range of activities and experiences with a rural flavour, including training in agricultural and countryside skills and competitive activities. DEFRA provides funding to support those activities which meet DEFRA priorities.

Government supported the Year of Food and Farming in 2007-08 and are supporting the legacy campaign, Think Food and Farming. These schemes have helped children and young people learn about growing food, what happens on a farm, what life is like in the countryside and what the countryside can offer in terms of employment. Through agri-environmental schemes farmers receive approximately £1 million per year to provide educational visits to their farms from schools and other interest groups.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is developing a new Diploma offering a mix of classroom and hands on experience at different levels in Environmental and Land-based Studies for 14 to 19-year-olds. It will be available in some schools and colleges in England from September 2009, and across the whole country by 2013. It focuses on the environmental and land-based sector and includes subjects such as:

working with plants and animals

environmental sciences

the way land is used for the production of food and for recreation

he effect humans have on the world around and how to limit the damage we do.