Jo Ropner, who has a degree in agriculture, is enjoying her first year in the Royal role following her appointment last November and earlier this month, the North Yorkshire County Show was held on the Camp Hill estate near the village of Kirklington where she lives and farms with her husband, Robert.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Mrs Ropner said it was very encouraging to see so many young people participating at the show, handling and showing sheep and cattle, shoeing horses and displaying real interests in rural activities.
“I feel passionately about supporting rural communities in North Yorkshire. The county remains predominantly agricultural and we need to see opportunities and conditions improve so that the next generation of young people get involved in agriculture and other rural-based industries.”
As reported by The Yorkshire Post’s recent Dales in Crisis series, small, rural communities in the Yorkshire Dales are suffering from an increasingly damaging exodus of young people, where declining local services, a reliance on community-run transport, a dearth of well-paid jobs and a severe shortage of affordable homes is driving away working-age families.
Mrs Ropner said: “For the countryside to continue to thrive, it is important that young people have the option to stay in rural communities and work in farming.”
The summer’s show season continues in North Yorkshire this weekend when Malton Show takes place on Sunday, and Mrs Ropner acknowledged the huge role these long-running events play in the rural way of life.
“The County Show, as with other agricultural shows, is important for rural communities. It is a chance for farming families and friends to get together in what can otherwise be an isolated existence,” she said.
The Lord Lieutenant said many of the challenges faced by the farming county were hidden from view.
“Our county has some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain but we must be aware of the challenges faced by the farmers who look after the countryside. Many farmers experience financial pressures, isolation and uncertainty. These strains can lead to health problems both mental and physical.
“I don’t believe that most people are aware of how challenging farming can be. Farmers, by their nature are hard-working and incredibly stoic.
“I hope that going forward, more exposure can be given to the problems which farmers face and the right help given to support rural communities.
“In the wider population there has been a welcome lifting of the taboo on speaking about mental health and I hope that this will extend to the farming community.”