2014-03-28  

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Opening of £2.4m Dairy Unit Marks New Era for College

Lord (Donald) Curry of Kirkharle performed the official opening ceremony of Newton Rigg College's £2.4m state of the art dairy unit, marking a hugely significant day for British farming and agricultural education.

The initiative has drawn national praise and support, including from the Farming Minister, George Eustice, who commented:
“Young farmers are the lifeblood of the industry and the rural economy, which is why we’re supporting them through investing in educational facilities across the country. Our Rural Development Programme has created or safeguarded more than 2,000 jobs in the north-west, which will help ensure long-term economic growth in the region’s farming, food and tourism sectors.”

Farm Imagges

Around 400 invited guests attended, including representatives from the north's farming and rural community as well as national figures, business representatives, college governors, staff and students to witness the official opening by Lord Curry followed by the blessing of the dairy herd by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Revd James Newcome.

In August 2011, York-based Askham Bryan College took over the running of Newton Rigg with the promise to put agriculture back at its heart. The dairy unit is part of a multi million pound investment programme to do just that. Students from both campuses and the College's other centres across the north of England will use the new facility as an integral part of their degree, diploma and apprenticeship studies.

Liz Philip, Chief Executive said: “Young people study with us from across the north of England and agriculture is very much the tap root of the education we provide. Our focus is on providing work ready young people and having one of the most technically advanced dairy systems in the country will enhance their learning and career opportunities. The number of students studying agriculture with us has doubled in the last three years which speaks volumes for the high regard in which we are held.” In 2011 there were 305 students and apprentices, today the number is 630.

Opening the unit, Lord Curry said: “The importance of this for the farming community across the country cannot be underestimated. The new dairy provides a first class facility for students, and for Britain's farmers generally. It also provides a real vote of confidence in the industry and is all the more poignant as it marks the return of the College's herd since it was lost to FMD in 2001.”

Blessing the dairy herd was a “first” for Bishop James who said: “The opening of this dairy heralds a significant investment in the future of farming in our county. The agricultural industry is one of the life-bloods of Cumbria's economy and has been through some difficult times in recent years.

“So it's wonderful to have the opportunity to bless this herd in the Lord's name. It also helps re-focus our minds on our roles in the husbandry of the God-given land and livestock which we are lucky to have in such abundance here in Cumbria.”

Some 70 different groups from across the UK have already asked to look round the dairy unit, ranging from Young Farmers Club members to industry and agricultural discussion groups.

The College is delighted to acknowledge the support received for the project from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2007-13 through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Newton Rigg

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