Comment: Yorkshire Agricultural Society is always evolving in ever-changing world

James Hopwood, a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.
James Hopwood, a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.
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Tuesday 7am, the Great Yorkshire Show, the soft haze of morning light across the freshly cut, lush green president’s lawn, the gentle hum of the early morning showground, the air full of the anticipation and excitement for a three-day festival of all things food, farming and rural, moments away from bursting into life.

Through my 32 years the Great Yorkshire Show has been a constant, attending is very much a family tradition with my father and grandfather stewarding in the cattle rings. As such, the traditions and culture of the Yorkshire Agriculture Society form part of my core and enthused me to become a cattle steward following in my grandfather’s footsteps.

Having recently been nominated to sit on the Society’s council and represent its members, it is the way in which the Society is evolving and adapting to the rapidly changing social, political and economic environment that effects agriculture and the associated rural sectors that makes me most proud to be involved.

It drives me to give my time and play my part in working towards positive change.

Over recent years the Yorkshire Agricultural Society has significantly expanded its range of charitable and educational activities, developing a strong core of farming networks, allowing the next generation to have opportunities to get involved.

The Society’s Countryside Days have enabled more than 6,000 young people to descend on the showground. They are the future consumers of our produce and this event gives them the opportunity to learn about food, rural life and all aspects of the environment.

Increasingly, such activities are supported by members of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire, a group that I am proud to chair, and over recent years the network’s numbers have reached over 1,000.

It’s attracting some of the industry’s most prolific leaders to share their insight and knowledge, and the group will once again host the GYS Breakfast Meeting on the Wednesday morning of the show in partnership with the NFU.

The activities of the Society are all-encompassing. The Farmer Scientist Network focusses on driving forward innovation and productivity in crop and animal husbandry while at the same time exploring the opportunities and threats of Brexit.

Promoting wellbeing for those who live in rural communities is provided through the Yorkshire Rural Support Network, and pathways to take local issues and concerns of the rural sector straight to the heart of government is provided via the Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network. It is these activities, networks, shows and events that all pull towards the overarching aims of the Society since it was founded in 1837. This is to educate future generations, whilst providing encouragement and support to the rural community.

Agriculture, our landscape and the food sector have all seen unimaginable change since the Society was created, and now amidst the uncertainty of our evolving world there has never been a better time to stand up and embrace inevitable change.

The Future Farmers of Yorkshire Breakfast meeting will be held at the Great Yorkshire Show on July 11. For more information or to book your free tickets head to

James Hopwood is a member of the Future Farmers of Yorkshire group.