In hindsight, studying philosophy at St Andrews University was an unorthodox route into farming. So far I admit, it hasn’t helped in lambing a tricky ewe.
Indeed, for the seven years after graduating I worked for three different companies that had little to do with agriculture.
It was only two years ago that I returned to the farm and a month ago that I was elected the new chairman of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire.
But I count myself lucky that I had a diverse commercial exposure before farming.
I worked on projects to help companies like Google unlock value from data. Our New Zealand Romney sheep enterprise is now powered by data. Whether that’s tracking grass growth rates, genetic traits and live-weight gains or analysing carcass data from the abattoir.
I worked on projects helping BMW and Samsung to become more customer-focused – a challenge facing all UK farmers.
It taught me practical lessons that apply to running a farming business, but it also taught me that all businesses face broadly the same challenges. And it taught me that the best businesses learn from the diverse approaches that other organisations take.
Yorkshire has one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in the country, if not the world. Having an amazing breadth of farms, institutions and agri-businesses and this diversity is a huge opportunity for farmers in Yorkshire.
We plug our members into this network of expertise and experience. We give them the opportunity to broaden their mindsets and learn from the very best. That could be by attending a headline debate such as our Breakfast Meeting at the Great Yorkshire Show which this year will be on Adaptability in the Face of Change.
Or it could be by joining one of our industry visits such as an upcoming trip to Arla or by attending commercial skills workshops such as on negotiations training.
Our membership has soared to over 1,000 people, achieving national recognition for the engagement we have driven across the county. I believe this is testament to the success we have had in bringing our members face to face with industry leaders.
We are learning what it means to be customer-focused. Becoming fluent in accountancy, business planning and negotiation. As well as understanding how to manage risks and how our supply chains work.
So when we emerge from the period of change we are entering, the farmers in Yorkshire, Future Farmers, will continue to be the leaders of our industry.
If you are someone who is passionate about the farming industry, someone who wants to be part of one of the most thriving, forward thinking groups in the country, then do get involved.
You don’t need to be a farmer. As you may have picked up, we value diversity. Who knows, you could even have studied something as remote as philosophy.
Written by Alastair Trickett Chairman of Future Farmers of Yorkshire