A NEW head of agriculture has been appointed for Newton Rigg College, Penrith.

Matthew Bagley takes on the role with a broad range of skills and experience across the farming and education sectors.

Wes Johnson, college principal, said: “We have fought long and hard for the right person for this extremely important role, and I know he will be pivotal to our education of the farmers and agri-business leaders of tomorrow.”

Mr Bagley is a hill farmer and sheep specialist by background and joins from Reaseheath College where he was programme leader for the agriculture and sheep unit.

He is on the English committee of the National Sheep Association, is a member of the Sheep Veterinary Society, has worked with the Liverpool Veterinary School and is currently working on a number of sheep trials with ADAS.

Mr Bagley has undertaken health planning training across north-west England for the RDPE Enterprise delivery hub and is a member of the beef and sheep steering group.

He said: “With the pressures of providing food for the world’s growing population, the challenges for tomorrow’s farmers cannot be underestimated.

“Working with young people to provide first-class education across the land-based sector is not only a privilege, but vital to the success of Britain’s agricultural industry and efficient food production.”

Mr Bagley joins the college at exciting times with recent announcements of a £3m investment in the campus and college farms, beginning with a new dairy unit and the re-introduction of a dairy herd. Work is expected to begin on the unit within the next few months.

Plans for the college’s Low Beckside Farm, Mungrisedale, include new sheep housing and training facilities.

The college’s 1,100-flock of fell, draft and lowland ewes will also benefit from his experience and knowledge.

Newton Rigg is one of the fastest growing colleges in the country specialising in landbased courses in agriculture, countryside management, gamekeeping, forestry, horticulture and engineering, all of which will come under Mr Bagley’s auspices.

Askham Bryan College, York, took over the running of Newton Rigg from the University of Cumbria in August 2011 and pledged to put land-based education back at its heart.