New Defra secretary Steve Reed echoes commitment to farming futures on special visit to day two of the Great Yorkshire Show

The new Secretary of State for Defra has pledged at the Great Yorkshire Show to fight the corner for farmers but refused to be drawn on setting an agricultural budget.

Day two of the show was the first event outside London that Steve Reed has attended since he was appointed as part of Keir Starmer’s Cabinet following the General Election result last week.

It was also the first time that the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, had visited the event.

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As the showground opened its gates, Mr Reed was already in a meeting with Victoria Vyvyan, the president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) before visiting the NFU stand to meet with NFU Vice President Rachel Hallos.

Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show. Preparing the cows at the show Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show. Preparing the cows at the show Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024
Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show. Preparing the cows at the show Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024

Then it was the turn of the media and when asked by The Yorkshire Post if he had set a rural budget he said an announcement will be made in due course.

Mr Reed said: “We are fully committed to ELMs (environmental land management schemes), we have said that all the way through the campaign, that remains the case. I want to support the aspects that are working well and will make an announcement in due course.

"My job will be, through the spending review, to fight for the sector and that 100 per cent is what I will do. I want that sector to succeed.”

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When pressed on a budget being the key factor behind whether pledges such as improving food security and fairer prices for farmers are going to materialise he added: “We are looking at how we can help it to work (ELMs) but we do that by listening to the sector, not sitting in an office in London telling people what will happen to them.”

Archbishop of York with Charles MillsArchbishop of York with Charles Mills
Archbishop of York with Charles Mills

Earlier, Mr Reed had told a gathering of CLA members: “During the campaign I spoke to farmers and landowners up and down the country, they made it clear to me how difficult things had been.

"It will take years to reverse the damage but I am confident, despite the scale of the challenge that we face, that we can do it.”

He stated he would cut energy bills for farmers, create a new publicly owned company to harness British power, speed up planning departments and cut rural crime with the first cross government rural crime strategy focusing on agricultural theft, fly-tipping and livestock worrying and increasing police patrols in rural areas.

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As Mr Reed was outlining his new role less than a week into the job, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, joined leaders with prayers and while it was his first Great Yorkshire Show, he told The Yorkshire Post, it was by no means his last.

Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Steph Bristol holds Male Champion and Reserve Junior Champions Charolais from Brampton Hall Farm Selton on Ure near Ripon Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Steph Bristol holds Male Champion and Reserve Junior Champions Charolais from Brampton Hall Farm Selton on Ure near Ripon Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024
Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Steph Bristol holds Male Champion and Reserve Junior Champions Charolais from Brampton Hall Farm Selton on Ure near Ripon Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024

It was a celebration of farming, and of rural communities, he said, but also a chance to share, within towns and cities, what country life is all about. And just why it matters.

"We say in the Lord's Prayer 'give us our daily bread' - I do wonder whether many of us today know where our daily bread comes from?", he pondered.

"Do we know what goes into making of it? If it wasn't for our farmers and our rural communities we would not have 'daily bread'." The Archbishop, speaking on the importance of food security and easing food miles, also acknowledged some of the challenges that farming families faced.

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"There can be, in rural and farming societies, a lot of isolation, there is a lot of often hidden rural poverty," he said. "If crops fail, that can result in real hardship.

Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. New Secretary of State, Steve Reed OBE MP pictured at the showPicture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. New Secretary of State, Steve Reed OBE MP pictured at the showPicture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024
Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. New Secretary of State, Steve Reed OBE MP pictured at the showPicture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024

"The rain that we have had this year in particular has caused real difficulties. Nevertheless, farmers are tenacious and resilient people."

And there were a great many examples to celebrate, he said, as events such as the Great Yorkshire Show demonstrate this resilient spirit.

They also show the strength of potential that is just waiting to grow.

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"I'm very hopeful that our new Government will properly invest in and support our rural communities," he added.

"The important thing is we are one nation."

On this second day of the nation's biggest agricultural showcase, in this 165th anniversary show, it saw brighter spirits and skies with more temperate weather.In competitions the judging ramped up its pace with a great flutter of rosettes and red ribbons, as another year's work came to shine before great crowds of thousands.

Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024
Day 2 Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate. Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme 10th July 2024

And alongside the main ring events, from Heavy Horse pairs to tractors and celebrity guests, there were other weighty debates delving deeper into Yorkshire's key issues.For Future Farmers, conversations centred on environmental solutions that society demands, and the industry's ability to deliver, while for North Yorkshire it was tourism that topped the agenda.