Grow Yorkshire campaign launched to drive profits of food and farm businesses in North and East Yorkshire

David Kerfoot, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, who launched Grow Yorkshire at the Defining a future for Yorkshire farming conference held at the National Agri-food Campus in Sand Hutton. Picture by Charlotte Graham/CAG.
David Kerfoot, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, who launched Grow Yorkshire at the Defining a future for Yorkshire farming conference held at the National Agri-food Campus in Sand Hutton. Picture by Charlotte Graham/CAG.
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Food and farming businesses across North and East Yorkshire constitute the nation’s “rural powerhouse” but they must collaborate better to prosper from a period of impending change, the leader of the area’s local enterprise partnership said.

A new campaign, Grow Yorkshire, to address that challenge was announced by David Kerfoot, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding LEP, at an event for farmers and business figures near York yesterday.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove was due to attend but he pulled out due to “family reasons”, his department said.

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Mr Kerfoot and the LEP’s head of business Tim Frenneaux said government policy was too city-focused.

He said that through the new campaign, food and farming businesses will be empowered to propose to the Government how they can work in a unified way to meet Whitehall priorities through innovative, locally-led means that strengthen the rural economy.

Speaking at the ‘Defining a future for Yorkshire farming’ conference held by the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network at the National Agri-food Campus in Sand Hutton, Mr Kerfoot said: “York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding is a major rural powerhouse. Being a proud Yorkshireman, I’m going to tell you that we are the rural powerhouse in the UK... but government policy has always been far too city-focused.”

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He said that through the new campaign, food and farming businesses will be empowered to propose to the Government how they can work in a unified way to meet Whitehall priorities through innovative, locally-led means that strengthen the rural economy.

Speaking at the ‘Defining a future for Yorkshire farming’ conference held by the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network at the National Agri-food Campus in Sand Hutton, Mr Kerfoot said: “York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding is a major rural powerhouse. Being a proud Yorkshireman, I’m going to tell you that we are the rural powerhouse in the UK... but government policy has always been far too city-focused.”

He added: “Grow Yorkshire is a business-focused campaign and support programme to help farming and food business improve their profitability. Good profits in farming and food and greater collaboration means that in the end we will be a lot stronger to put forward the kind of policies and ideas and obtain funding we need to make this (Brexit) a success.”

He said some farmers need to raise their game to make a success of the changes ahead and that they would be supported to do so through Grow Yorkshire.

“I am concerned that some farmers simply do not treat their agriculture as a business. There needs to be therefore a cultural change and we need to ensure it happens.”

Farmers in the LEP area reap £230m a year from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, Mr Frenneaux said, adding: “We know that’s going to go down and that for some businesses it will be a huge amount of their total turnover so we know we need to do something about it. This is about driving change that puts our industry in a better position to go forward with into the future.”

Grow Yorkshire will launch fully early next year, he said.

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