Our Charitable Activities – Review 2023

At the end of an eventful year, here is a look back at just some of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s activities over the last 12 months.

Thank you to our members, supporters, partners and sponsors for your generous backing which ensure we have continued to champion agriculture, provide a platform for the farming community to come together, and educate children about where food comes from.

2023 Review

Training for farmers and other agri-professionals

The Society offers a variety of training opportunities for those working in agriculture across the North of England, particularly through the work of Future Farmers of Yorkshire.

This thriving network of more than 1,000 forward-thinking farmers, vets and agricultural professionals is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society and its membership is open to all with a stake in the industry, free and without obligation.

Future Farmers’ training courses this year have included Financial Planning, a course delivered in partnership with Savills, Filming on your Phone, to equip Future Farmers with skills to confidently tell the story of British agriculture to the wider world, and farmer-focused mental health training delivered by RABI.

To date, more than 30 Future Farmers have benefited from RABI’s mental health training.

To hear about the latest training courses from Future Farmers of Yorkshire, sign up to join them here.

Meanwhile, another of our networks, the Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network is offering a rolling Training Support Programme for farming and rural businesses.

Areas of focus for this programme has so far included CEVAS (Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme) training to prepare farmers for hosting educational visits, a practical first aid course delivered by F3A specifically designed around commonplace scenarios and dangers on farms, and heavily discounted access to the SALSA food safety accreditation scheme.

Our next CEVAS course takes place in Tadcaster on 8-9th February – full details here. SALSA opportunities are ongoing – take a look here for more information.

Goodall Agri-Development Pathway

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society has recently launched its new Goodall Agri-Development Pathway, a fully-funded training programme to support the development of farming’s next generation.

The Pathway will help young people to develop their skills and experience, improve their performance and prepare them for enhanced responsibilities as their career in agriculture evolves.

Details of this exciting new programme are explained here and applications for our first cohort of ‘Pathfinders’ are now being accepted, until 8th January 2024.

Events

A strength of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society is its commitment to bringing the farming community together for the sharing of best practice and by providing a platform for debate about topical issues.

At the start of the year, the Farmer Scientist Network held a fascinating Regen Ag Open Event where guests heard from experts in the field. Read the full report here.

Neil Fuller's soil safari

Regen Ag has been hotly discussed in 2023, including at the Future Farmers of Yorkshire’s Spring Debate where 240 farmers and allied industry professionals took part in a lively debate. Catch up on the discussions here.

Autumn’s diary also saw us get-together as a community for a Harvest Thanksgiving Service at Ripon Cathedral where The Right Reverend James Jones KBE gave a powerful sermon on the value of farming. The Rt Rev James’ words are available here to read in full.

Our Women In Farming Network brought rural women together in a spirit of celebration, inspiration and friendship in October. Some 130 guests heard relevant insights from the worlds of marketing, agricultural contracting, agricultural journalism and flower farming. Read the full report here.

Future Farmers brought our ‘big’ events season to a close for 2023 at the end of November with their inaugural Harvest Dinner Dance in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. More than 300 attendees enjoyed a night to remember, raising £7,000 in support of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and RABI.

Our picture gallery and report brings gives a flavour of the occasion here.

Bursaries

Each January, Future Farmers awards bursary places to attend the big Oxford industry conferences. This year, Pete Meadows, Tom Holliday and Joe Weston attended the Oxford Farming Conference.

Tom’s verdict was that he left the conference “feeling inspired, motivated and grateful to have the opportunity to be working in such an exciting and developing industry”. Read Tom, Pete and Joe’s OFC reports here.

Zander Metcalfe and Caroline Rhodes, meanwhile, attended rival event, the Oxford Real Farming Conference and you can read about their experiences here.

Future Farmer Christina Liddle (pictured below) was awarded a bursary place at the NFU Conference in February where the topic was ‘Feeding a Changing World’. Christina wrote about her visit to the event here where she says “I went home with enthusiasm and a clear idea of some potential next steps for our business”.

Future Farmers bursary opportunities extended to Groundswell where Blair Wallace and Becks Lonsdale took deep dives into the regenerative agriculture movement.

Becks picked up on concerns that “regenerative farming is being colonised by a prescriptive, conventional-style mindset”, whilst Blair reflected how it would be unwise to “fossilise” regenerative farming too soon, “limiting its potential and opening the door to criticism”.

Read Becks’ full report here and Blair’s write-up here.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships

Since 1980, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society has been supporting the development of farming and agricultural industries by helping individuals to unlock potential and broaden their horizons through the sponsorship of Nuffield Farming Scholarships.

Our 2023 sponsored Scholar  is Dr Hannah Fraser (pictured above), a first generation farmer and junior doctor who is studying ‘displacing empty calories with nutrient dense food’. Read more about Hannah’s story here.

Hannah follows in the footsteps of our 2022 Scholar Miles Middleton whose report about sustainability in the dairy industry is now available here.

Projects

Farmers nationwide can now benefit from the UK’s most comprehensive and first independent guide to selecting, establishing and terminating cover crops, co-designed by farmers with the help of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Farmer Scientist Network.

Award-winning Yorkshire farmer Angus Gowthorpe (pictured below) led the project thanks to funding from Innovate UK.

As a free and easy-to-use online tool, the Cover Crops Guide is scientifically supported to give farmers the most up-to-date information and advice on cover crop varieties and their management.

The Cover Crops Guide was officially launched at The CropTec Show in Warwickshire on 29-30th November 2023.

Visit the Guide at www.covercropsguide.co.uk and read more about this collaborative project here.

Great Yorkshire Show

This year’s Show, the 164th, saw the Farmer Scientist Network introduce a new Innovation Zone, as billed here.

The Innovation Zone incorporated the presentation of an Innovation Award sponsored by the Institution for Engineering and Technology which was won by Neil Fell for his invention of a mobile hydraulic sheep dipper, described in more detail here.

A well-received addition to the Show, the Innovation Zone will be back at the 2024 event showcasing high-tech modern farming and the latest agricultural innovations.

Contributions of farms in the North of England to conversation and environmental improvement were also recognised at the Show with the award of the Tye Trophy.

As well as regional winners, an overall champion is picked and in 2023 the trophy holders are Malcolm and Marty Handley of Croasdale House Farm, Lancashire. The full list of winners is available here.

The Future Farmers of Yorkshire’s flagship event, its Breakfast Meeting on the Wednesday morning of the Show, looked at building resilience.

It brought together more than 200 farmers and industry professionals where an expert panel urged them to cut through tough economic challenges by focusing on factors within their control and plotting a clear plan for their businesses. Here’s the full report.

There’s a handy round up of our activities at the Show here too.

Education

Summertime brought hundreds of schoolchildren to the Great Yorkshire Showground for two hands-on days of interactive learning – and the chance to meet and learn more about livestock – at our ever-popular Countryside Days for primary school children.

In the Autumn, our educational events continued with Apple Day workshops which saw children learn all about growing this versatile fruit and how it is used for different produce.

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Ripon Cathedral