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The Farming Ladder - Getting On & Going

An insight into getting started in farming or changing direction within the industry will be given in a wide ranging conference to be held at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

Entitled “The Farming Ladder – Getting On and Going” the event takes place on Thursday 29 November and will bring together a broad range of career paths and perspectives.  It is organised by the Yorkshire Rural Support Network which is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Kate Dale, the Network’s co-ordinator said: “We’ve gathered together a group of speakers who have different stories to tell about how they became involved in the industry, and the challenges and opportunities they faced. We also have speakers from the  industry who are actively helping others to climb what can be a difficult ladder.”

Conference topics include share farming,  the graduate schemes offered by both McCain Foods and Cooperative Farms,  a Nuffield scholar's experience, a perspective on  landowners and entrepreneurs working together,  and the road taken by two Yorkshire Wolds farmers and business partners who met at college and have gone on to develop their successful venture. Canon Revd Leslie Morley, Vice Chairman of the Network  and Chaplain to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society will chair the day.

In addition, a panel of speakers will also answer questions from the floor, namely Stephen Wyril, National Vice Chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association, Dorothy Fairburn, Regional Director, CLA North and Barney Kay, Regional Director, NE England, NFU. Emma Penny, Editor of Famers Guardian will chair the panel.

Tickets cost £10 each and include lunch. They can be booked through Co-ordinator, Kate Dale at or on 07912 495604.


Peter Caley and Adam Palmer from the Yorkshire Wolds who established Six Valley Lamb two years ago which produces forage fed lamb for the dead weight market. Peter and Adam met at college, and also continue to work on their family farms. Peter farms with his father John at Smithy Briggs Farm, Burton Constable and Adam took over the family farm in Thixendale more than a decade ago.

Landowner John Henderson farms near Skipton and has had a lifelong interest in the industry. He is the Yorkshire President of the CLA. John launched his first share farming enterprise 20 years ago, with Tony Shepherd as operator.  Tony is a first generation farmer, and after gaining his HND in agriculture has successfully farmed ever since.

David Edwards and John Hurst, both from Co-operative Farms, one of the UK’s largest landowners, add a different perspective. David is the business’s Farm & Environment Adviser. He manages 900 hectares of arable land near Scarborough as well as his responsibilities across the company. John Hurst oversees the management of 15,000 acres, including managing 3,000 acres in North Lincolnshire. He also has responsibility for the company’s graduate training scheme.

Graham Finn, is the Policy Adviser Agriculture, for McCain Foods and Matt Stubbings is a McCain sponsored student. After 41 years in the industry, Graham took semi retirement but maintains an active interest by sitting on the Potato Council MI Committee and the Yorkshire Food Farming & Rural Network. Matt, who is from Malton, is not from a farming background but is currently studying Agri Food Marketing and has spent a year with McCain Foods as an agronomy student, which he says has been invaluable to him.

Nuffield Scholar Michael Blanche is a first generation farmer who spent eight years on season lets before securing a ten year tenancy near Perth. His Nuffield study title was “The Farming Ladder”. From a tough beginning he currently has 600 ewes, 87 fattening heifers on bed and breakfast and dairy bull calves on a profit share.

Tom Curtis is the co-author of The Land Partnerships Handbook – a guide to help land owners and entrepreneurs work together. He founded the social enterprise “Landshare" and chairs the board of Cultivate, a new community-owned food company based in Oxford.

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