Hartpury students get set to give expert panel a grilling on the future of farming in BBC debate


The future of British farming will take centre stage next week when Hartpury students get the chance to grill a panel of industry experts in a BBC debate.

A group of 20 Agriculture students will head to Bristol on Friday, May 1st for a major debate about the next generation of agricultural workers – from farmers to engineers, innovators and researchers.

The debate will be part of the Bristol Food Connections Festival at the Imax Theatre and is being hosted by the BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme, who are recording a special edition of the programme to be aired on Radio 4 on Saturday, May 2nd at 6.30am. It will also be available as a podcast and on the iplayer.

Hartpury students will pose their questions on a range of subjects – from the jobs market to the rural economy and land rental prices to the increase in automation in farming – to an expert panel chaired by Farming Today and Countryfile presenter, Charlotte Smith.

The panel will be made up of Dan Corlett of Farming and Countryside Education, who will talk about the image of farming and ways to get non-farming students interested in a career in agriculture, Charles Cowap of Harper Adams, who will focus on succession planning and finance, farming graduate Jack Stilwell, who set up a crowd funding appeal to raise cash to start up in farming, and Harriet Warne, an agricultural apprentice from a non-farming family.

Head of Agriculture, Janatha Stout, said: “With agriculture such a hot topic on the political agenda as we near the General Election, there’s no better time for our students to be asking probing questions about the future of our industry.

“At Hartpury, we ensure that our students are well equipped to tackle the issues facing the sector and ready to hit the ground running in the workplace when they graduate. The quality of the questions they have prepared shows the depth of their knowledge and I’m sure they will show that the future of British farming is in safe hands.”

The Hartpury students will also have the chance to meet the team behind the BBC’s ‘Harvest’, which returns to TV screens this Autumn and has been critically acclaimed for shedding a light on British farming and its contribution to the nation’s food supply.

There will be an opportunity to hear from the team about the impact Harvest made with growers, producers and consumers and an exclusive preview of the new series. A discussion will focus us what is affecting UK farmers and food production this year.

In October last year, BBC Radio Four came to Hartpury to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into how young farmers at Hartpury are trained in animal welfare, looking after livestock and the business of farming. The findings of presenter, Charlotte Smith, were aired as part of a series of weekly themed reports. One of Hartpury’s agriculture lecturers, James Papworth, spent time with the reporters and a group of students giving an insight into how our young farmers are trained. Students answered questions on what they are taught with regards to animal welfare and also gave their views on labelling cattle.

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