Yorkshire farmers call for increased support post-Brexit

A survey has been launched to better understand the challenges Yorkshire farmers think they’re going to come against post-Brexit
A survey has been launched to better understand the challenges Yorkshire farmers think they’re going to come against post-Brexit

A major survey has been launched to gather feedback from Yorkshire farmers to make the case to the government for increased business support post-Brexit.

The findings will help the Yorkshire farming industry gather a better understanding of what challenges and barriers they are facing.

It also wants to know what the biggest threats are going to be to farm businesses over the next 12 months.

Grow Yorkshire, an initiative co-ordinated by the Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), launched the survey.

Insight gained will underpin the next phase of the initiative which is to create an action plan to ensure the relevant support and resources can be requested from the government.

David Kerfoot, Chair of Grow Yorkshire, said there are farmers that are already embracing change and using it as an opportunity to develop their business.

“A big part of helping other farmers capitalise on these opportunities is sharing the stories of those that have already started doing this,” he said.

However, the initiative needs to understand the specific challenges Yorkshire farmers are currently facing. “This is really key to us developing our action plan and will underpin what we prioritise in terms of next steps,” Mr Kerfoot said.

Open letter to Farming Minister

An open letter, which has been signed by over 30 leading organisations of Yorkshire’s agricultural sector, was delivered to Defra's Farming Minister Robert Goodwill as part of the initiative.

The letter calls for the government to commit to supporting the region’s rural economy so it can continue to thrive post-Brexit.

Alongside the survey, a steering group has been set up to help shape the strategy for the initiative going forward.

A key milestone has been that a representative from Defra has officially joined the panel, alongside leaders from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, NFU, CLA, and the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network.

All groups are working together to ensure that all farming and food businesses in the region are made aware of the support that is available.

'Farming is in for a massive change'

A key part of the initiative is to share success stories from farmers to help encourage others to think about ways they could innovate.

East Yorkshire farmer Tom Mellor, who farms at Hunmanby Farm Grange near Driffield, runs Wold Top Brewery alongside his farming operation and is keen to encourage others to find ways to innovate and remain profitable.

He highlighted how farmers must be 'constantly open' to being challenged and responding to that in a 'positive way'.

“Farming like every other industry is in for a massive change. It’s always evolving so modern day agriculture needs to meet the challenge of constant change and be proactive, otherwise we’ll get left behind,” he said.

Mr Mellor now runs an independent brewery and distillery that produces beer and spirits. “The changes you make don’t always need to be big ones. It’s important to look at what you’ve already got to see what opportunities could already be available to you.”

He added: “For us, that was realising that we could use the water supply that was already present on the farm and look at other ways we could use it.