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How we can attract young people into the farming industry

Published on: 18 Oct 2023
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Dylan Vetara was recently announced as the first ambassador for this year’s #FarmingCAN campaign. Dylan’s story is an extremely inspiring one which starts in Namibia in south west Africa. Emily Ashworth of Farmers Guardian talks to Dylan about representing the industry.

He was raised on a beef and game farm in Namibia but his mother, who was British decided to move back to the UK about 20 years ago. Towards the end of his school days, Dylan also moved over to the UK and studied agriculture at Brinsbury College. Since then, Dylan has built up a following of 12,000 on Instagram and 180,000 following on TikTok.

Everyone in farming has a different story to tell, whether they’ve been in the industry for generations, or fell into the industry everyone’s experience is varied. Which is what makes the industry so special, a network of people that reiterate how vibrant, modern and interesting the industry can be.

Dylan is representative of a generation which is here to tell the world that farming is not stuck in the past and, if you want, there is a place for you, and social media is the perfect place to spread that message.

"College helped to bridge the gap, because although I am from a farming background, farming in Namibia is different. Coming out of college I had a good knowledge of British agriculture."

Dylan took on various roles in his farming career and wanting to try his hand at most of the farming systems. But he learnt dairy was not for him whilst on a college placement, and felt settled on a mixed farm in West Sussex which changed the course of his farming journey.

Dylan says: "While I was studying, I ended up on a mixed farm and stayed for about seven years.

"The farmer there was an amazing teacher and he did not just teach me about farming, but about the relationships [you form in the industry] and I would not have known that otherwise.

"Last September I felt I had reached my peak there and that I had progressed and learned as much as I could. So, I moved to an arable farm and am trying my hand at contracting in Kent.

Dylan Vetara

"I have made mistakes, but each and every one has led me to where I am today and I am happy."

He describes his social media presence as accidental, but a testament to his ability to showcase the joy he finds in farming and spread the message.

He says: "You only have to look at the number of young farmers who like sharing what they are doing. They are leading in full force and all like showing what they are doing - the good, the bad and the ugly.

The industry is open to everyone and the idea that the industry is only for those who have been in it for generations is no longer than case, and Dylan hopes to show that.

He says: "It is all about the image. Being a person of colour, if you are a child and you love animals and the outdoors, but you look at the industry and do not see someone who looks like you, you will not want to try it.

"I would use the example of the blockbuster film Wakanda Forever. People felt proud to see a superhero that looked like them because it had never been done. It makes you push on and you know it is an option.

"Black farmers need to put themselves out there to show there are people who look like us in the industry. We have a bad image in schools - it is not just manual labour.

"There are research jobs, genetics; these all come under the agricultural umbrella. I love the variety, and yes it might be windy and wet sometimes, but the experiences, the views and the sunsets are to die for."

There are so many opportunities as Dylan’s story shows and he believes there are so many people in the farming community who are willing to help and teach. Take a look at his story and it shows there are opportunities.

"There are a few - and I mean a tiny minority - who have not fully embraced [change] and still of the thinking that ‘well, we have always done it this way'. But as a general rule, the farming community is very welcoming."

If you’re interested in finding out more about the #FarmingCAN campaign visit Farmers Guardian