The farming column with Sam Walton

Bishop Burton College.
Bishop Burton College.

Education is even more important today than ever before. In farming as perhaps with a lot of businesses, we are in a global scenario, where it matters what Joe Bloggs in Peru or New Zealand is doing.

So agricultural colleges are more important now not only to learn the rudiments but how to integrate into life on a farm in a worldwide market.

I don’t know exactly how many actual students at either of our colleges are purely agriculture.

I guess a small percentage now as we have exotic animals, veterinary nursing courses, horse management certainly plays a massive part, financial planning and of course gardening where recently Bishop won an award at Chelsea Flower Show.

We need nowadays to manage a business, not just how to be a stockman, we need to know about accounts and how to present them and if the rumour about the Inland Revenue wanting us to present our accounts every three months actually happens (my accountant has just been to a course about such things) then that is going to be an interesting scenario, as on some arable farms there will be a three month period with no income!

Maybe it is to make us all pay our taxes on a monthly basis.

Both Askham Bryan and Bishop Burton started as Institutes of Agriculture and are now colleges.

Some our older colleges are now universities and so it goes on.

There are less farms these days for students to be able to start on heir own like I did, so the idea no doubt will be to study for a degree to become a farm manager and maybe get onto a profit sharing basis.

I am not saying there are no opportunities to farm but these days it is essential that students now know more than how to calve a cow, more like how to manage the herd and integrate it into the whole farm set up as an example.