IT IS vitally important that young farmers "look beyond the farm gate and step out from behind computers" to see the bigger picture and make use of all opportunities within the agriculture sector.

Catherine Smith, land agent at Bell Ingram and a farmer’s daughter from Yorkshire, attended the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference in January, and now feels strongly that farmers need to adapt to the changing landscape.

“Young people are the future of the industry," she said. "We need to have as much knowledge as possible in order to gain experience and understanding of a changing industry.

“It’s important that you look beyond your farm gate or computer and see the bigger picture so you can grow and expand both professionally and personally. While it is important not to always do something just because someone else is doing it, you also need to know what opportunities are available and keep up-to-date with what is happening in the industry in a wider context," said Ms Smith.

“I think we are a generation that is going to see a lot of change in the industry within our lifetime and, by broadening our knowledge, it will enable us to embrace those changes – whatever they may be.”

Catherine said that the OFC was a great way to discover how fellow farmers are preparing for the year ahead: “The event gave me the opportunity to meet new contacts and listen to some very inspiring and engaging presentations.

“I have come back to the office with a more realistic and also positive insight into the future of the agricultural industry. While I am under no illusion that the next few years won’t be without their challenges, I feel much more prepared for what may be ahead. It has reminded me how fortunate I am to work in the industry.”