Farm Minister has high hopes for land-based students' job prospects

Farm Minister George Eustice MP has returned to his alma mater, Writtle College, to hand out Further Education Presentation Day awards.

George Eustice. Image: Writtle College
George Eustice. Image: Writtle College

Eustice, now Minister of State – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), graduated with a HND in Commercial Horticulture at Writtle College 22 years ago.

He said the knowledge he had acquired was still very useful in his ministerial role.

"I still use the knowledge [lecturer John Cullum] taught me when dealing with issues as Farm Minister, whether it is red spider mites, the vernalisation of cauliflowers or diquat chemicals. It is an advantage to know about your subject, and sometimes to know more than your officials!"

He recommended the land-based industry as a career, saying being concerned with the environment naturally leads to a diverse role.

"I was once told to choose something that you are passionate about and then work out how you can make a living out of it. Working in the land-based industry is an extraordinary career to choose. Food production is our biggest manufacturing industry and the population is set to grow by 9 billion by 2050, demand for food is expected to go up by 60, there is new technology and climate change.

"Whereas in the last 25 to 30 years we talked about grain mountains and butter mountains, over the next 25 to 30 years it will be about food security. So the prospects for those in the industry are very good."

Eustice, who is the Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, advised students that they may face adversity in their careers but that this may be worthwhile.

He drew on a failed attempt to commercially grow strawberries at his family farm in Cornwall that led to the company going into receivership and him learning more about the law and finance. This, he said, led him into politics and he now has the benefit of reconciling his passion for agriculture and horticulture with his political career.

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