Pioneers group helps to train future agricultural leaders

A training programme for young farmers has been launched by the Co-op Group. The Farming Pioneers Group was set up to develop 60 future leaders in agriculture, with trainees drawn from a...

A training programme for young farmers has been launched by the Co-op Group.

The Farming Pioneers Group was set up to develop 60 future leaders in agriculture, with trainees drawn from a rigorous selection process.

The 20 young farmers chosen for this year’s scheme work in farming businesses across the country, all of which are long-term suppliers of the Group.

Aged 21-35, they will be offered a range of knowledge and business skills to help them develop their careers.

Ciara Gorst, the Group’s head of agriculture, said: “It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where they’ll have a chance to learn from some of the agriculture industry’s leading lights, share their experiences and adopt these principles in the businesses they have a stake in.

“They will be exposed to some high-profile challenging situations and we look forward to seeing the new group gain the range of new skills and build the contacts which will last throughout their careers, just as those in the first group are doing.”

Related: Brexit – What next for Scottish agri co-ops?

The Co-op Farming Pioneers programme is part of a long-term commitment to support British agriculture, and an important part in developing relationships with its farming supply base.

Miss Gorst continued: “We know participants gain huge insight into the business skills needed to compete on a world market and will complete the programme with a greater understanding of the whole supply chain and its relationship to value creation.”

David Masters, a dairy farmer from Wincanton in Somerset, who was one of the Co-op’s original 2016 pioneers, said: “I was keen to get involved as I wanted to get a better understanding of how the Co-op worked, what influenced its buying decisions and gain an insight into the direction they want farmers to go in the future.”

Another 2016 trainee, Neil Kidd, added: “We recently visited a large beef enterprise and I was struck by the grasp and understanding they had on costs throughout the business.

“They were also taking the time to talk to the abattoir about what cuts the customer wanted and crucially acting to supply them.”

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