Pride Month: Herefordshire farmer speak outs on diversity in farming
21st June 2021
Organic farmer and Instagram influencer Ben Theo Andrews says he wants to “give people hope that they can live their totally open and authentic selves in the agriculture industry”.
In a video message posted to his 45.5K followers on Instagram, Ben said he hopes to show that industry agriculture can be as diverse as the produce it grows.
Commenting on his early life, Ben, who now lives and farms with his husband John, said: “Back when I was growing up as a farmer’s son, I never thought I would see the day I would be married and living open with another man. It’s something that back in the 80s when I was growing up, it wasn’t even talked about.
“So to be here now is incredible, but there are still plenty of people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity. We want to try and be visible and give people a bit of hope that they can live their totally open and authentic selves in the agriculture industry.”
Ben works with the organisation Agrespect, which aims to unite and celebrate the thousands of people living, working and contributing to rural communities, and start a conversation about equality, diversity and inclusion in the countryside.
“That’s our goal – to promote agriculture as diverse and inclusive,” Ben says.
Ben noted the significant skills gap and the need for new blood and “fresh ideas” in the industry, with the average age of farmers in the UK being 59. But for those who want to continue working in the industry, he wants them “to feel happy and safe, and feel they can be open about who they are and fall in love with who they fall in love with”.
He added: “As an organic farmer, I know diversity is key to a healthy, functional, sustainable farming system, whether it’s using diverse crop rotation to control pests and diseases or the various things we do to, not just allow wildlife in, but to help certain threatened species to thrive.
“I don’t see why the people that work in the agricultural industry shouldn’t be as diverse as the produce we grow. Hopefully by talking about it more we can make people feel more comfortable to be themselves.”