Farm to Fame: Inspiring Next-Gen Agri-Food Leaders

Farm to Fame: Inspiring Next-Gen Agri-Food Leaders

Did you know that over 45% of Gen-Z-ers follow influencers on social media?

These television and social media stars have the power to have a major impact on the purchasing habits of young people, but there’s also a huge opportunity for the food and farming industry to engage with our next generation of leaders. With a massive rise in the popularity of food and farming influencers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, these personalities are shining a light on the exciting career opportunities available in the industry.

Clarkson’s Farm


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A post shared by Prime Video UK (@primevideouk)

The latest season of Clarkson’s farm has proven even more popular than its previous one amongst audiences across the globe. The show, which follows former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run his own farm in the English countryside, has gained immense popularity due to its entertainment value and quirky personalities. However, it is also crucial in highlighting the challenges and hard work involved in running a farm and the issues facing the farming industry today. A hit amongst the farming community, and the general public alike, the show has done an excellent job of educating viewers on the intricacies of farming, including crop rotation, soil health, and animal husbandry. By showcasing the daily life of a farmer, Clarkson’s Farm has brought a newfound appreciation for the hard work and dedication required to sustain our food systems, while also highlighting the career opportunities available in farming.

Farmer Will


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A post shared by Will Young (@farmer_will_)

For younger audiences, we are also seeing farming personalities featured in the fluffier reality shows. The hit reality show Love Island concluded last week, and amongst the 2023 Winter series lineup was TikTok sensation, Will Young, also known as Farmer Will. Although Will did not make it through to the finale, Farmer Will remained a fan favourite throughout this season. The 23-year-old from Buckinghamshire has over 1.5 million followers and 36 million likes on the popular video app. Will shares his day-to-day life on his family’s sheep farm. Will quickly became popular amongst Love Island fans, but it wasn’t just the general public who were rooting for Will, the farming community were too. Agriculture, which employs just under half a million people in the UK, is one of the most critical industries in the world, crucial for keeping populations fed. However, despite it being so important to the public, it has been the silent backbone of society – often not featuring in mainstream media, consumers unaware of the efforts that goes into producing their favourite products. The industry also has an ageing workforce with more than a third of farmers over 65, and only 3 per cent are under 35.

The Red Shepherdess


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A post shared by Hannah Jackson (@redshepherdess)

Farming influencers are not a new concept. Hannah Jackson (@theredshepherdess) has shared her journey via Instagram of becoming a first-generation farmer. Hannah has since become a writer and public speaker and even appeared on TV shows such as SAS: Who Dares Wins. In an interview with MDS on the need to inspire future generations to consider a career in farming:

“Farming is traditionally a family business; therefore, many young people are not even aware that agriculture is a career they can become involved with if they haven’t grown up around it. With the average age of farmers being 59 years old, it is vital that we encourage young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to invest their careers in agriculture not only to keep the industry thriving but because individuals from outside of the industry often bring innovation, fresh ideas and are open to change and improving the industry and our farming systems.”

MDS’ Own

The popularity of food and farming influencers is something that MDS is familiar with. MDS Alumni, Shahrukh Farrakh, a former MDS trainee who now works with Aldi, runs a popular Instagram page, @halalmunchiesreviews, with over 28.5k followers. Shah turned his passion for food into a career when he joined the MDS programme in October 2020. Over two years, he was able to experience the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork. We spoke to Shah about his thoughts on young people entering careers in the food and farming industry. “I chose MDS as I wanted to get a better understanding of the “farm-to-fork concept”. I find it fascinating how the food industry produces its goods and services and how demanding this process is year after year. In the long term, I knew I wanted to be involved in the food industry as I have lots of food projects I want to launch, and I am on track to do so! I love the idea of MDS equipping trainees with correct knowledge and experience and gaining “real responsibility” in roles such as food production, commercial, technical, and R&D. My views on the agricultural and food industry has changed so much as I have so much more respect for all the workers both on the front line and working behind the scenes! Food production is a memory I’ll never forget and the challenges of these roles are great for development and training.”

The Impacts

As the UK’s leading provider of management training for the food and agriculture industry, MDS is proud to see the representation of farming in mainstream TV. The impacts of this are already starting to take hold.

Experts in youth recruitment for the industry and the top career choice for industry newbies, MDS trains young people keen to enter the food and agriculture industry, offering candidates experience in all aspects of the supply chain. In the last year, we have seen a 100% increase in applications as consumers become more engaged in where their food comes from and how it makes its way to their plates.

Farming is a pivotal part of the food industry but is heavily lacking fresh and driven new talent. A report from the BBC shared how young people are increasingly choosing city life over a career in agriculture. However, as living costs rise and the London rental market becomes more unstable, is this an opportunity for rural industries to highlight the benefits of country living and exciting opportunities available in a food and farming career?