New members strengthen rural voice to Government

A welcome cohort of new members will strengthen the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network’s voice to Westminster.

The network, which acts as Yorkshire’s link network with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has appointed four new members following an application period for prospective candidates.

The newly appointed members bring vast experience and knowledge of rural issues to the group, which is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Introducing our new members

Joining the network are:

Richard Morley who operates a small farm based in Thorpe le Street, York, comprising of free-range layers and arable.

Richard also works for clients in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire delivering a wide range of business consultancy advice and services to rural businesses and is a member of Future Farmers of Yorkshire.

Richard has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to offer and is very much aware of the challenges facing farming businesses during the agricultural transition phase including the need for rural businesses to meet consumer demands and pressures to become carbon net zero.

Dr Graham Bottley who runs a small sheep farm based in Swinithwaite, West Witton, producing top quality purebred Swaledale mutton for supplying to private customers and local restaurants.

He also provides sheep handling courses for small holders and novice sheep keepers.

Graham is an active member of his Parish Council and has been instrumental in several local initiatives including local broadband implementation, rural school closure threats, and community infrastructure.

Rachael Charmbury, Business and Community Director at Craven College in Skipton.

Rachael has a good holistic knowledge of farming and rural business and is a farm business owner herself.

Rachael is a former multi-sector CEO and lawyer with experience of starting, building, acquiring, and selling businesses.

She has also volunteered as a business mentor for The Prince’s Trust and worked as a business consultant with the Cranfield Trust assisting charities with horizon scanning, organisational resilience, mergers, and cultural alignment.

Mark Blakeston, Grow Yorkshire lead at the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mark has vast experience in supply chain strategy and providing consultancy for tech businesses.

He has held director and MD positions in telecommunications as well as being involved in business start-ups.

Mark is a trustee with a local Men in Sheds charity and is involved in several voluntary organisations including the Driffield Agricultural Society.

He is an active Councillor and is Deputy Mayor of Driffield.

Madge Moore, Chair of the Yorkshire Food, Farming and Rural Network said:

I am absolutely delighted that Richard, Graham, Mark and Rachael have agreed to join the Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network.

Collectively they bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience of the challenges facing agri-food and rural businesses.

All have experience of managing their own businesses as well as helping establish and run numerous rural community projects.

Their expertise will serve the Network well as we strike a united championing voice for the region’s rural communities, enabling them to become more resilient, competitive and sustainable.

The YFFRN articulates local issues directly to government at ministerial level and collaborates to develop local solutions to local problems.

Madge added:

These are challenging times in the countryside. Amid the Covid recovery, communities and businesses are grappling with important decisions, from adapting to Brexit-induced policy changes around how they do business to grappling with perennial challenges around the weather, succession planning and access to infrastructure such as high-speed broadband, among much more.

As a Network, we will remain at the forefront of political decision-making by acting as a voice for Yorkshire’s rural businesses and communities.

The YFFRN meets three times a year and holds conferences and events to get to the heart of pressing rural issues.

It also actively encourages Defra to gain first-hand experience of what the challenges are in rural Yorkshire.

Among the Network’s current areas of focus are Brexit, business support for smaller businesses, broadband and encouraging new entrants into farming.

Watch: Yorkshire farmers’ Q&A with Defra’s Janet Hughes

Read: How regenerative agriculture is shaping my farm – Angus Gowthorpe

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