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Take 5 with... John Milner, Next Generation potato farmer

17 February 2016

Getting Started spoke to John Milner, one of AHDB Potatoes’ Next Generation delegates. John explained the biggest challenges facing the potato industry, as well as what the Next Generation group has offered to him.

Q: Why did you join the Next Generation programme?
I joined the next generation group to gain a further understanding of all areas of the potato industry. To increase my knowledge and to utilise the fantastic opportunity provided by AHDB Potatoes!

Q: What is the biggest challenge affecting the potato sector?

We face many challenges within the industry.
However I believe following consumer habits and consumption closely, interpreting knowledge transfer provided, and producing potatoes that fit into an ever changing 21st century diet, are the main challenges to growers.
The next generation group has shown that the younger population are demanding food that requires less time to prepare, is of high quality and is healthy.
As an industry working together, the challenge is to show that potatoes are fat free, a natural source of fibre and contain essential nutrients - perfect for a balanced and healthy diet.

Q: What has been your professional and personal gain from the Next Generation programme?

The next generation group has offered me an array in both areas.
Professionally, the opportunity to meet and share ideas with current industry leaders, networking and building business relationships with people considered key to driving the industry forward.
Gaining a wide range of knowledge of the potato sector as a whole and comparing how businesses are currently operating.
Personally, building knowledge and interpersonal skills, whilst being given the opportunity to make new friends with like minded people.

Q: What are you going on to next?

Working as an assistant farm manager, the next generation group has allowed me to gain information and experience that I can utilise and share within the business.
Over the last twelve months I have made so many new contacts within the potato sector, which will be vital in the future to myself and the industry, because we all need to work together.

Q: What does the future hold for potato farmers?

Like many commodities grown, potato production is becoming increasingly specialised within a tough and ever tightening market.
However, the potato industry is a fascinating place and whilst speaking to industry leaders over the past twelve months with the next generation group, it is clear to see that potato farmers can have a vibrant and positive future.
There are so many opportunities within the potato industry waiting to be explored, especially as we witness the habits and traits of consumers constantly evolving.
Knowledge transfer will be key to driving growers to produce exactly what consumers require.

Source: FG Insight

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