Two weeks ago, I was pleased to attend the excellent Agri Skills Day hosted by Hartpury College. The Agri Skills day was aimed at showing KS3 pupils (11-14 year olds) how much science and technology is involved within farming. I am always pleased to support Hartpury College, which as well as being one of the UK’s leading land-based and sports educational establishments, is also a significant employer in my constituency.
The day I attended was really well organised by Director of Agriculture, Janatha Stout, and her excellent team. It was good to see the NFU also supporting the event. I was able to experience a variety of the skills and courses on offer at Hartpury College and meet many of the very knowledgeable tutors.
Students got to spend some time in the laboratory where they were taught about the genetics of different animals including sheep and cows, where I was tasked with demonstrating how a sheep’s lung functions. Hartpury College offers courses in Applied Animal Science and the facilities in the laboratories are first class, and the tutors really encourage the students to get the best out of them.
Students were also given an insight into how GPS technology is used to assist with driving farm vehicles, primarily tractors. One of the courses that the College offers is a professional qualification in Tractor Driving, and I was impressed with the knowledge that the tutors have and how enthusiastic the students are.
I was also pleased to meet the team from Cotteswold Dairy during my visit to the College. This was one of the most popular items as the students who attended got the opportunity to make – and drink – some fresh milkshakes. Cotteswold Dairy are Tewkesbury based, but serve the whole county, including parts of my constituency, and indeed are based close to the area where the Hartpury cows are milked.
I enjoyed my day at Hartpury College, and it was great to see first-hand how the next generation of farming is taught. The farming sector is vital to the local and British economy, landscape, health and security and I am pleased that the Government is committed to continuing to support such an important sector.