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
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.
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