About Young Advocates

Young Advocates for Agriculture established in 2009, is a nationwide initiative to encourage new voices in agriculture and give young people a platform to debate the current issues that will affect the future of our industry.

The 2011 Debate:

Young Advocates for Agriculture is the brainchild of The National Farm Research Unit in association with David Bolton Partners, and is supported by The Worshipful Company of Farmers and leading industry figures. This annual debating competition offers young agriculturalists the opportunity to gain invaluable experience by putting their views to industry leaders and the wider world, develop their communication skills and win an impressive prize.

The future for the farming industry is a challenging one. It has been estimated that farmers need to double world food production by 2050 - whilst protecting the environment and possibly growing crops to help replace fossil fuels. Against a backdrop of unpredictable climate change, farmers will face increasingly discriminating consumers and volatile world markets. To succeed and prosper, the farming industry must attract the very brightest, dynamic and forward-looking young people, who need to be convinced that new ways of thinking and innovation will be listened to.

Farming issues are regularly debated in the mainstream media but many of the views we hear and read are rooted in the past. Whether it is the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the case for genetically modified crops or the consequences of animal disease, it is important that we encourage those who will be responsible for the future success of the farming industry to take up the debate and have their say.

Young Advocates for Agriculture 2011

Two students from Newcastle University won Young Advocates for Agriculture 2011 in a keenly fought debating competition held at the Farmers & Fletchers Livery Hall on Thursday 6th October. Presenting the prizes, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, the Rt Hon Jim Paice MP, expressed his admiration for all the young agriculturalists taking part in the debates and encouraged them to continue their interest in current farming issues and the development of their public speaking skills.

"Our industry needs its advocates," said Mr Paice. "We've always suffered because we don't have enough people out there who can positively promote and explain what we're doing, and some of those subjects you debated this afternoon do take some explaining.

Newcastle's Aimee-Rose Sharp and Charlotte Flint opposed the motion "this house believes that global free trade is good for British Farming" and made a forceful argument instead for a global trading environment that acknowledged the high standards and regulatory framework British farmers adhere to. Their use of humour, rhetoric and carefully researched statistics won them the Young Advocates for Agriculture trophy, a cash prize and a day's media training with the well-known broadcaster Tom Heap, presenter on Countryfile, a regular contributor to BBC's Panorama and BBC Radio 4's flagship series Costing the Earth. They will be joined on the media training day by Kerry Jerman and Faye Herdman, from Aberystwyth University, runners-up in the competition.

An audience of industry leaders, farmers and agricultural students was clearly entertained by the lively debates and speeches from the floor. Judges Simon Walters, the Political Editor of the Mail on Sunday, Richard Brooks, a past Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, and Angharad Evans, a member of last year's winning team, listened carefully as motions focussing on the importance of wildlife and the relationship between British farmers and their customers were also debated. Speaking on behalf of the Judges, Simon Walters, noted both the oratory skills and the ability of the young agriculturalists to take on complex industry issues and present persuasive arguments. Widely supported by the farming community the event was featured in the farming press and in a range of online media.

Listen to the Rt Hon Jim Paice talk about why public speaking skills are important:

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