Rebecca is the fifth generation of her family to work their family mixed arable and sheep farm. Following completion of an undergraduate degree in Human, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Rural Estate Management at the Royal Agricultural University, she pursued a graduate role as a rural surveyor. After this she worked as a project manager in a poultry equipment supply firm before returning to work on the farm full-time.
She believes having an academic, or indeed any, background should not be a barrier to becoming involved in agriculture as the industry requires a diverse range of skills to strengthen it and progress.
As the ‘Boots’ of the Boots and Heels duo, Rebecca brings the farming side to the podcast and wider social media platforms which were established to bring together a farming and non-farming perspective with her co-host, Lizzie. The girls want to bridge the gap with the public and ask the questions about farming, so you don’t have to.
Rebecca also runs her own Instagram page which has grown to a following of more than 35,000, where she documents the highs, lows and everything in between of farming life. Aiming to help the public learn about food production, she believes social media gives us the power to tell our own farming story.
What’s your current role?
How has continuing professional development (CPD)/training made a positive impact on you?
As a farmer, CPD can look a bit different to my time as a rural surveyor. However, this doesn’t mean that opportunities for development aren’t out there.
For me, personal development can often come in the form of conferences and industry talks/events. I find these really useful as I can learn from people who have different farming systems to mine and decide if they are doing something I could bring back to our farm.
What led you to pursue a career in this industry?
Having grown up on a farm, I was always interested in agriculture and knew I would likely return to work on the farm one day.
Coming back to the farm happened sooner than planned due to family illness, but I saw my early return as a real opportunity to learn about decision making and how to run a business.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I love knowing we are producing food – something which is so vital for everyone – in a sustainable and welfare-friendly way.
Being able to utilise cutting-edge technology to do this is amazing and I think it puts us as farmers in a position to lead the charge on sustainable food production.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Often some of the biggest challenges are those which we can do little about. For example, there is a lot of political uncertainty, which makes decision making quite tricky.
One of the biggest challenges at the moment is the squeeze on profit margins which most farmers are facing. It would be really great to see more equality in the supply chain to help counteract this.
What skills do you think are important for success in this industry? I think there is such a broad range of careers in our industry that there’s most likely a role to suit any skill set. Increasingly, aptitude with computers and technology is going to be crucial for agriculture in the future. Technology will help pave our way to efficiency, sustainability and profitability.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in agriculture/horticulture? Go for it! It can be a daunting step, especially if you are not from a farming background, but the job can be extremely rewarding.
However, while lots of people in the farming industry are demanding more of a work-life balance, there are still often inevitably times on the farm when hours are longer than most. Therefore, it’s crucial to pick the right sector for you and also to remember that not every job linked to agriculture has to be directly farming.
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