The regional director of the Country Land and Business Association, Dorothy Fairburn, is surely correct when she says that the spirit of determination and pulling together that Yorkshire’s agricultural community showed during the foot-and-mouth crisis will stand it in good stead for whatever lies ahead.
That terrible disease which engulfed our countryside in 2001, causing heartbreak and wrecking livelihoods, was only surmounted by the grit and resolve of farming communities. Their tireless work in rebuilding lives and businesses since then has been an astonishing and admirable achievement.
In their own way, the consequences of Brexit present an equally formidable challenge. The Government has still not spelt out its detailed proposals for agriculture once Britain leaves the EU, and as the clock ticks down towards next year’s departure date, uncertainty continues. Farmers need to plan ahead and deserve much clearer guidance on what the future may hold if the industry is to prosper. In particular, they need to know what will replace EU farm payments, as well as the likely form import and export markets will take.
Resilient they certainly are, but farmers cannot operate without effective and firm policy information. The Government should set out its plans for agriculture without further delay so that Yorkshire’s farmers can start meeting the challenges of Brexit, and maximise whatever opportunities it offers.