Supplementary memorandum submitted by
The Institute of Agricultural Management (A 17(a))
We fully agree with the response made by the
Royal Agricultural College, but hope the following comments may
also prove useful.
What training is available for farmers on the
food chain and agriculture's role in it? What is the uptake among
There are a number of private and public institutions
which offer training in this areaalthough it is more likely
to be one-off seminars and workshops rather than courses. The
Institute, for example, has some 20 branches. These all have programmes
of meetings, at some of which will be speakers on food chain issues.
Some agricultural consultancy firms hold training days, as do
universities and colleges.
Uptake is not always good. With so little labour
on farms these days, farmers find it difficult to spare the time.
We also find that the lower the morale of the industry, the less
willing are farmers to go to discussion meetings.
My view is there is still a great deal of suspicion
and mistrust on the part of farmers towards those lower down the
What proportion of their time do agriculture students
currently spend on business and the natural environment or conservation,
as opposed to production-based, subjects?
The proportion of time spent on Business/Environmental
Studies has increased.
At the University of Reading, where I am based,
the proportion is about 30 per cent for students taking Agriculture
degrees. Students wishing to specialise in farm business management
may do so in their final year, in which case the proportion would
rise to 50 per cent. There is also a degree here in Agricultural
Business Management, where the proportion would be 80 per cent.
Similar situations would be found in other Higher Education establishments.
It is fair to say that Agricultural Faculties
of Universities and Agricultural Colleges experience great difficulty
in recruiting good students. The adverse publicity which has surrounded
the industry in recent years, and pessimism about the future,
has greatly diminished the number of applicants.
What involvement does the agriculture industry
have in course design and content? What skills does the agriculture
industry see as desirable in graduates at present?
This is an important question. Universities
are being driven more and more to concentrate on research excellence,
and the more esoteric it is, the higher tends to be the regard
in which it is held. This has rather reduced the contact between
academics and farmers.
As Professor Alliston has indicated, most educational
establishments would seek to have some industry advice when curriculum
is being developed and reviewed, although the extent of this will
vary with the Institution.
One role that we believe we can increasingly
play in this Institute is to act as a forum in which academics,
consultants, farmers and farm managers can meet to discuss the
training needs of the industry. There is no doubt a perception
that business and marketing skills need to be enhanced in the
farmers of the future.
The Institute of Agricultural Management
28 February 2002