This year has been a particularly significant one for farming nationally and internationally and of course for us at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society as we continue to support our industry and adapt to the new world of Brexit.
Looking back to the beginning of the year, it was clear to us there was much confusion as to what both sides of the Brexit debate were saying, and specifically the possible impact on farmers. That confusion continues and of course the US election result will also have an impact.
Although we are best known as organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show, our wider role year round meant we were well-placed to identify the key Brexit issues for farming to help generate a more informed debate. Our Farmer-Scientist Network brought together academics specializing in different facets of the EU and leading farmers resulting in a report published in January.
This report could not have been more timely. There was huge media interest and we followed this with a farmer discussion event at the showground to try and bring some clarity. The response from farmers, speakers and the media to that first event was so positive and appreciative that similar debates were arranged around the county for those unable to attend the initial one. In July, we were delighted the-then Agriculture Minister, Liz Truss, toured the Great Yorkshire Show - tangible acknowledgement of our flagship event’s importance.
As the ramifications of the referendum play out, it’s important agriculture’s voice isn’t drowned out by the clamour from the financial services sector and others. We can and will play a part in updating farmers about the changes being discussed and we’re planning more debates next year.
Away from politics it’s been a year of changes. Our new exhibition hall opened to great acclaim this summer and is already bringing in new business, all of which adds to the financial resources we have to support the industry. All profits from our commercial activities are ploughed back into the Society to help fund that work.
Fodder, our regional food shop and cafe, the Yorkshire Event Centre, Harrogate Caravan Park and Pavilions of Harrogate continue to do well. The Pavilions team was delighted to receive the Business Tourism Award at the White Rose Awards, which helps raise our profile, and from that, our voice in championing the cause of British, and in particular, Yorkshire farmers.