Young farmers protest against Newton Rigg closure

Over eighty tractors took part in the event which protested against the college's closure (Photo: Cumbria YFC)
Over eighty tractors took part in the event which protested against the college's closure (Photo: Cumbria YFC)

Young farmers took to their tractors and protested against the planned closure of a popular agricultural college in Cumbria.

Farmers from clubs all over the county took to the roads on Saturday 20 September to support Newton Rigg College, in Penrith, which is earmarked for closure.

Over eighty tractors turned up at the event, with some displaying the banner ‘Protect our Farming Future, Save Newton Rigg College’.

The tractors commenced from the towns of Broughton, Drigg and Longtown, and finished in Newton Reigny.

Newton Rigg's owners, Askham Bryan College, confirmed in May that it will no longer deliver educational provision from the site beyond July 2021 because it was financially unviable.

Since that announcement, several interested parties have approached with proposals for its future use.

But Neil Curr, the county chair of Cumbria YFC, told local news website In Cumbria that the loss of the college would have a 'great impact' on the future of young people.

“We currently have more than 1,500 members, many of whom attend or were planning on attending the college, making use of not only the farming and agricultural courses, but also forestry, agricultural engineering, animal care."

He added: "Without Newton Rigg College, the future and quality of farming within the county is at great risk”

The MP for Penrith and the Border, Dr Neil Hudson said it was was 'humbling and heartening' to join with the young farmers on the tractor run.

"They have shown loudly and clearly what this vital Cumbrian college means both to them and our UK farming future. We will keep working hard to try to save Newton Rigg.”

Newton Rigg was established in 1896 to serve the needs of agricultural and rural industries in Cumbria.

Since incorporation in 1992, it has been owned or governed by four different corporations including two universities.

Around 117 staff and 888 learners are based at the campus. They include 667 further education students, the majority of whom are enrolled on one-year programmes, and 221 apprentices.