Farmers across Worcestershire are today marking the annual 24 Hours in Farming event.
This year’s event, which is run by FG Insight and supported by Morrisons, runs from 5am on August 10 until 5am on August 11, and encourages everyone in UK agriculture to tell their story to show just how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.
Farmers across the UK have been taking to social media today and have also been speaking to the public about what they do, to highlight how hard-working and dedicated UK farmers are.
Sam Jones, a sheep farmer from Ham Green, just outside Redditch, said: "Farming is a great way of life. Hard work, long hours but being out in the fresh air and more or less being controlled by the weather is like no other profession. At one with nature.
"Farming24 gives you a snap shot of all different parts of the country doing different thing in their farms, bringing farming closer to the public and giving them a little glimpse into 24hrs of being a farmer . It's the greatest profession in the world."
Cllr Dr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, said: "Worcestershire is famed for its agricultural economy, with farms and rural businesses across the county flourishing. The County Council, along with our partners at the Local Enterprise Partnership and DEFRA, are committed to supporting local farmers and rural businesses, most notably through schemes such as the LEADER programme, which is proving to be a great success.
"The 24 Hours in Farming event is a wonderful way to thank farmers for their passion and dedication, and I would encourage everybody to get involved and show their appreciation of our local farmers for their vital contribution to life in Worcestershire."
Mr Jones's business is just one that has benefited from LEADER investment. He has received around £10,000 from the programme over the last two years, and he says this has led to an increase in productivity of 30-40%.
Sam said: "(The investment) has been fantastic. It's made sheep-handling so much easier and saved us time, money and effort. We're making savings of £4,800-5,000 per year."
The investment has even helped Sam make his way to the last three nominees in the Farmers' Weekly Sheep Farmer of the Year contest.
The horticulture sector as a whole contributes £2.6 billion every year to the UK economy and about 14% of this is produced in the West Midlands – the vast majority of which will be from Worcestershire and neighbouring rural counties.
More than £644,000 has been invested into Worcestershire businesses to date through the Worcestershire LEADER programme since it was set up two years ago.
A total of 26 businesses have been chosen to receive funding, and the investment has meant the creation of extra jobs, with up to 80 new jobs expected to be created by the end of 2019 across all the companies.
One other sector that is vital to Worcestershire's economy is ‘agri-tech’. Agri-tech is a term that is used nationally to cover applied research and innovation in the agricultural industry, including horticulture, to increase yield, profit, turnover and business growth.
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Worcestershire benefits from having a hugely successful base of agritech businesses and an increasingly impressive infrastructure for developing agritech skills. Worcestershire LEP and local partners recognise the importance of agritech for growing the county’s economy and we have recently invested £500,000 into the development of a new Agritech Research facility at Pershore College, helping to provide future generations with business-relevant skills.”
For more information visit https://www.24hoursinfarming.co.uk/about-24-hours/
For more information on the LEADER programme contact Katie Ainsworth or Lucy Mayo on 01905 843992/01905 846741 or go to www.worcestershire.gov.uk/leader