Industry experts to discuss the big issues for the future of agriculture at the inaugural Yorkshire Post Country Week Conference

The changing face of agricultural policy is presenting farmers and landowners with some of the biggest challenges seen since 1945.

The Yorkshire Post Country Week Conference takes place in October as part of the run-up to the Yorkshire Post Rural Awards.

As we move towards clarity around the new Environment Land Management Scheme, and with the ongoing debate over trade deals and welfare standards set to continue, The Yorkshire Post Country Week is bringing together industry experts to discuss the issues at its first virtual Country Week Conference.

Taking place in October, during the run up to The Yorkshire Post 2021 Rural Awards, the free to attend event will look at the challenges and opportunities for the future.

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Our host will be Harry Gration who said he is looking forward to an inspiring and positive day. “For as long as I can remember, The Yorkshire Post has been the champion of rural matters in Yorkshire. That role has never been more important than today. The turbulent events we’ve all endured make the Yorkshire Post Country Week’s lead even more significant.

“This conference will bring together some of the most inspiring people and companies to stimulate a positive idea of what our future can be. As a father and professional, I want to hear what that is and draw on it myself.”

The Country Week Conference is supported by leading organisations across the county and will bring their expertise to the agenda discussions.

Richard Taylor, who heads up property consultants Strutt & Parker farming department, said the Country Week Conference came at a time when the rural sector faces “unprecedented” change.

“This is due to a complex set of interconnected factors ranging from Brexit through to climate change and it brings challenges but also opportunities for land managers.

“The conference will be a chance for farmers and landowners to explore their options when it comes to ensuring the financial and environmental sustainability of their businesses,” Mr Taylor said.

“A key theme will be how farmers can be profitable while continuing to efficiently produce safe, nutritious food to feed the nation, while satisfying the environmental demands being placed on the sector and reacting to the Government’s carbon reduction targets.

“The event will bring together a wide range of experts who will shine a light on where opportunities will lie in the future,” Mr Taylor said.

With food standards and sustainable farming high on the agenda for both producers and consumers, Chris Aldersley, Operations Director at premium food producer Cranswick, based in East Yorkshire, said the company has an ambition to become the most sustainable meat business in the world.

“We want to reinforce the credentials of the British meat industry and our focus on sustainability starts with our farm businesses,” Mr Aldersley said.

“We are keen to share how we are improving their efficiency and share best practice with farmers for the good of the wider reputation of the industry.”

He added that diversification could also provide an additional revenue stream for farming businesses with Cranswick aiming to “drive recruitment”.

“We have opportunities for indoor and outdoor pig farmers and are always looking out for farmers who want to work with us. We are looking for farmers who are interested in working with us to develop an income from poultry farming and we can discuss this through the conference programme.”

Looking at these future opportunities will be the NFU and legal firm Crombie Wilkinson who work closely with the organisation.

Adam Bedford, North-East Director of the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the team was “delighted to be involved in the Country Week Conference.

“It will be important for everyone in agriculture and the wider rural community to work together as we face some of the challenges of the future and develop new opportunities for farm businesses.

“The NFU is committed to a prosperous and progressive future for British farming, and we’re working hard to achieve that on the ground in Westminster, in Yorkshire and locally on farms.

“The Country Week Conference will be a great day to discuss all of that and more as an event focussed on the big issues facing farming at a time of great change in the countryside. It will bring together a range of speakers and interests from across Yorkshire, and the NFU is proud to play a central role in this conference looking at the future of farming in Yorkshire.”

Clair Douglas, Director and Head of the Agricultural Law and Landed Estates Team at Crombie Wilkinson, said the team were looking forward to taking part in the day with their NFU colleagues

“We have worked closely with Adam and his colleagues at the NFU for many years as their legal panel firm in the North East region, supporting the needs of the farming, rural business and rural community across Yorkshire. We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise around building resilience in farming businesses.”

Rural issues are not just affecting those who live in the countryside, as the pandemic and lockdowns have opened up green spaces to more visitors than ever before.

Katie Atkinson, Vice-Chair Trustee and Planning Lead for CPRE The Countryside Charity North Yorkshire, said: “Events over the last year have demonstrated the importance of a vibrant, thriving and accessible countryside to the health and prosperity of the whole nation.

“As our region emerges from a tumultuous and challenging 18 months, we now have a remarkable opportunity to celebrate the strength of our rural communities, to champion those businesses that work in partnership with nature, to protect our beautiful landscapes, and to lay the foundations for a sustainable, balanced and responsible recovery, in Yorkshire and beyond.”

The Yorkshire Post Country Week Conference takes place on Wednesday, October 6 starting at 10am.

It is free to attend and there will be the opportunity to put questions to the panelists.

To register and for more details go to the website: countryweek conference.co.uk