Letter: Why we ploughed a new furrow (1)

March 23, 2001

Agricultural colleges have diversified their curriculums to meet the changing needs of the countryside. Indeed, we refer to ourselves as land-based colleges to denote the change ("Merger plan is no solution for increasingly unpopular agricultural study"; leader, THES , March 23). Many have developed as centres of expansion, as advocated by your leader article.

At Myerscough College we have achieved a 40 per cent growth in further education activity and a 43 per cent increase in higher education numbers since 1997.

Of course, we have suffered with our farming operation, facing pressures as has everyone in the industry. Of course, we have faced funding "efficiencies" and we have had to look to diversify to create new income streams.

Of course, we would join arguments for better funding; who wouldn't? But we have sought to be proactive. We offer a wide range of provision, alone and in partnership, and give advice and training to rural-based businesses.

Nationally, it is of paramount importance that we have centres of excellence in land-based activities. The recent foot-and-mouth epidemic is a major tragedy and has brought pain and misery to all directly affected. But out of it will emerge a great emphasis on the need to produce quality food from our own resources and to maintain the British countryside we all treasure. Myerscough intends to be at the heart of such developments.

John Moverley
Principal, Myerscough College Preston, Lancashire

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