Reaseheath College agriculture students took the opportunity to quiz National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Vice President Rachel Hallos during a campus visit.

Rachel, whose specialities include education, workforce skills and science, research and development, visited the leading land-based college, in Nantwich, Cheshire, to gain a greater understanding of the skills training on offer, in particular in the areas of food, farming and environmental protection.

After touring Reaseheath’s vertical farm, automated milking parlour and industry standard Food Centre and glasshouse, she paused at a soil science masterclass before joining students for a Q and A session.

The ability of agricultural businesses to adapt to meet the fast changing demands of the consumer was discussed, with Rachel describing her own tenanted upland farm’s evolution from a milk producer and retailer to a beef and sheep based business with environmental outcomes and diversification into holiday letting and contracting.

Another topic for discussion was the increased importance of data and science within farming and food production.

Rachel, who has been in post since February 2024, told the students: “The consumer will dictate, and if the demand is for environmentally produced food and the consumer is willing to pay then we must adapt to meet it.

“We are an important part of the global supply chain but this is not necessarily recognised by the general public because food is so easily available in supermarkets. It is up to us to be proud about what we do every day and make every effort to educate the public.

“On coming to Reaseheath I’ve been impressed with the modern facilities and technical resources I’ve seen on campus, and with the students’ enthusiasm and commitment to the agricultural sector. I feel we can look forward to an exciting and secure future.”

James Pennington, a Level 3 Diploma in Agri-Food student from a mixed farm in Shropshire, said: “This has been a very informative discussion with an engaging and quality speaker. It has been very interesting hearing how someone in authority has dealt with their own farming challenges.”

Lucas Myatt, a Level 2 Diploma in Agriculture student from a non farming background, who rears his own beef calves, added: “I found the Q and A session very interesting, as I’m trying to find ways to adapt and grow my own business. It’s good to know the NFU is taking a stand to represent farmers at a political level.”