As the county show has been cancelled, Devon's young farmers are taking their agri-debates online.

The Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs debates will discuss the opportunities and challenges facing farmers in the south west.

The first debate ‘Is recruiting and retaining new entrants key to driving the agricultural industry forward?’ is being held on Thursday, June 25 at 7:30pm and is free for anyone to join by registering at

Helen Bellew, Devon YFC AGRI chairperson for Devon YFC, said: “Our debates at Devon County Show are always passionate, topical and insightful and we are determined to keep this vibrancy alive with our online events this year.

“We have a strong tradition of debating and our Devon YFC debating team were winners of the south west regional finals and were due to travel to the national debating finals in March which were cancelled.”

Chaired by David Fursdon, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, the panellists include Ali Capper, NFU Mutual board member and a national expert on labour issues affecting agriculture as chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board.

Ali said: “It’s a great honour to be taking part in this debate as the next generation of farmers will be leading the future of the industry.

"We are facing some of the biggest challenges in farming since the Second World War, including a critical shortage of farm workers in this country.

"Commitment and experience are vital to productivity as well as having the right career routes for people from within and outside farming to make the most of the opportunities that the technological revolution will bring to our agricultural future outside the EU.”

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Leading figures from the south west who will be on the panel include Matt Darke, Devon YFC vice chairman, who runs a mixed farm in South Devon with several generations involved in the family business; dairy farmer Chris Cardell from Grampound, Cornwall who has been the National Farmers Union (NFU) tenants forum chairman since 2014 and Peter Reed - programme manager at Bicton College and Duchy College.

Traditionally held each year at the Devon County Show, Devon Young Farmers have drawn large crowds to their marquee, for the annual agri-debate on the future of farming.

The online debate is part of series of four sessions organised by Devon YFC and NFU Mutual, with experts from farming and agriculture coming together to discuss topical issues and share best practice.

David Fursdon, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, will chair all four debates which will cover recruitment, the environment, diversification and mental health.

To register to attend the online debate, visit