Farmers have given a resounding backing to a new company which
will help them meet change and secure their own futures as well
as that of rural Cumbria.
More than 60 Cumbrian farmers from across the county agreed to
form Cumbria Farming Network (Rural Futures) at a meeting on Thursday
night (January 12) at Threlkeld, near Keswick.
|Directors elected at the annual meeting, left to right, back, Richard Maxwell, Glenis Postlethwaite, Carl Walters, Mike Booth, front, Brian Armstrong, Arnold Maw, Jayne Bland, Thomas Whiteford and Will Rawling. Missing from the photograph is Ken Pears.
Each pledged a £20 annual membership to join the
company which this summer will take over the role established by
Cumbria's Rural Futures project.
Rural Futures is a project of Voluntary Action Cumbria and
when funding runs out at the end of July this year, thanks
to the co-operation in the company of as many farmers as possible,
a mix of funding from private trusts as well as UK and European
grant money will hopefully have been secured to continue the
Thursday's first annual meeting received the complete
backing of those who had attended and a board of 10 directors
representing the county's five districts was elected.
“Since the project started in 2002, post foot and mouth,
the whole concept has been to get farmers to work with other
farmers and we would like farmers themselves to take on the
work of Rural Futures and through the company continue to
drive this agenda,” said Paul Harper who has been appointed
secretary of the new company and who has been the project's
leader from its outset.
Rural Futures over the last four years has organised around
320 meetings covering a wide range of topics, some of which
have been catalysts for setting up marketing groups - currently
there are 25 running.
It has helped farmer groups secure more than £700,000
in grant aid to improve their businesses and major initiatives
which it has supported have included the launch of the Cumberland
Dairy and its cheese-making operation and the Swalex scheme
which has recently resulted in the largest exportation of
UK breeding sheep from Swaledale breeders to Estonia.
Will Rawling, of Ennerdale, a Rural Futures co-ordinator
who was elected to the new board, told the meeting that the
whole of Cumbrian agriculture would benefit from the continuation
of the farmer-led projects.
It would re-connect farmers with the funding agencies as
well as the other main county farming organisations - Pentalk,
the Federation of Cumbria Commoners, Farm Connect Cumbria,
Cumbria Organics as well as the NFU and the CLA - in
a rural partnership.
“This rural partnership will result in efficient quality
production, sustainable communities and land management and
efficient delivery of policy,” he said.
Membership of the co-operative would have opportunities to
join local skills groups. It would enable to development of
projects for the benefits of all farmers and allow farmers
to communicate their needs to the funding agencies.
It is envisaged that it will provide information and technical
backing to members through newsletters and a website as well
as a telephone information line and services could include
reduced cost help with form filling.
Board members elected for each district were: Copeland, Will
Rawling, Ennerdale and Richard Maxwell, Ennerdale; Eden, Brian
Armstrong, Kirkoswald and Carl Walters, Bampton; South Lakeland,
Mick Booth, Kentmere, and Jayne Bland, Selside; Carlisle,
Arnold Maw, Bewcastle and Thomas Whiteford, Brampton; Allerdale,
Ken Pears, Caldbeck and Glenis Postlethwaite, Lorton.
Cumbria Farming Network (Rural Futures) wants to enrol as
many members as possible. Those eligible to apply are farmers
or farmer-controlled businesses engaged in farming activities
The company is limited by guarantee and is non-profit making.
Liability is limited to £1 a member or within a year
of ceasing to be a member if the company is wound-up for payment
Anyone interested in membership should contact Paul Harper
or Jean Canniffe at Voluntary Action Cumbria for further information,
tel 01768 242130.
© Copyright 2005 Jennifer
MacKenzie All Rights