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Great North Meet Conference
08/02/08

Six Cumbria Young Farmers’ Club members gave thought-provoking and inspiring speeches at the Great North Meet Conference held this year at Newton Rigg, Penrith, Cumbria.

From left to right: Alex Smith, Jim Nicholson, Will Case, Richard Potts, Neil Forrester, Neil Brough

Alex Smith, Jim Nicholson, Will Case, Richard Potts, Neil Forrester, Neil Brough

The conference was opened by Tim Farron M.P. who highlighted the challenges facing the agricultural industry and put forward his political solutions to these which included food security and a levy on imported foods that did not meet our welfare standards.

Members of Reaseheath College and Cumbria Young Farmers then presented their papers on the challenges for young people in farming.  Neil Brough of Raughton Head YFC discussed the ups and downs of the dairy industry over the last ten years and the future challenges of an increased world population and competition for land with arable farmers.  Richard Potts also of Raughton Head YFC talked authoritatively about on-farm biogas plants which could produce fertilizer and gas from animal slurry, crops and waste food.  He suggested that this could be done in partnership with the Local Authority.  Neil Forrester of Longtown YFC discussed the high environmental standards farmers were having to meet and the ramification of the forthcoming directives on nitrates, water and stewardship changes.  As an industry, farming has to show commitment to the environment.

Will Case, advisory member of Lowick YFC, talked about population growth and the probability that food demand will have doubled by 2050.  Alec Smith, advisory member from Crook took the audience through changing weather patterns, competition for water and the changing world economy.  He also raised the question of the ethics of bio fuels and the dichotomy between growing grain for fuel or food.

Cumbria YFC County Vice-Chairman Jim Nicholson from Lowick YFC asked whether the industry can justify the amount of energy spent on producing fertilizer and whether the debate over GM crops should be re-opened so that crop yield could be increased and the use of fertilizer reduced.

The Young Farmers then related the current challenges in farming to their own situations.

Their address was very warmly received by the audience who were heartened by the optimism and passion that the young farmers had for the future of the agricultural industry.

Will Case was presented with an award for the best speech by Chairperson, Claire Wise.

The afternoon session was led by Mark Atherton of R.D.A. talking on the carbon footprint of farming, followed by David Hugill on agricultural emissions and the NFU County Chairman, Trevor Wilson, who out drew the common theme from the day’s speeches of a need for co-operation between farmers and good marketing.

link Farm Incomes Report Paints a Mixed Picture
link Yorkshire Agricultural Society Boosts Farming Help Appeal
link Average Dairy Farm Rents Should Not Go Up

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Cumbria Young Farmers