Plough Sunday Service marks start of new farming year

Unstinting efforts of farm businesses and farming families to produce food for the nation and manage Yorkshire’s countryside will be celebrated at Ripon Cathedral’s Plough Sunday Service, supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

All are welcome at the service on Sunday 14th January 2024 at the start of a new year which brings fresh opportunities and challenges for British agriculture.

For many farmers, 2024 means looking for the best ways to adapt to new government policies, and trialling and adopting increasingly innovative approaches to farmland management and food production.

It may also mean pursuing ways to secure their futures by diversifying what they farm and adding value through new ventures.

Farmers set out to do so during a period of uncertainty ahead, with a general election to come and unpredictable weather patterns amid the changing climate.

Allister Nixon, Chief Executive of farming charity the Yorkshire Agricultural Society said:

As crucial stewards of the nation’s precious food-producing landscapes, farming families will continue to have the support of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society whatever the year ahead brings.

So, in time-honoured tradition, we partner with Ripon Cathedral for its Plough Sunday Service where blessings will be offered to those who farm the land.

We wish our farmers and their families a productive and fulfilling 2024.

As well as organising the 165th Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th July 2024, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society will offer events, training, bursaries and grants to support agriculture in the North of England throughout the year.

Until 8th January, the Society is inviting applications for its new Goodall Agri-Development Pathway, a fully funded training programme to support the development of farming’s next generation.

A service steeped in history

Plough Sunday is an ancient festival which was revived by the Victorians. Traditionally it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Epiphany.

In the Medieval period, when there was only one plough in each village, the village plough was brought into church for a blessing before ploughing began on Plough Monday, the first working day after the 12 days of Christmas.

In days when work was scarce in winter, the observance looked forward to the time of sowing with the promise of a harvest to come.

The Dean of Ripon, The Very Rev John Dobson, who will lead the service said:

We at Ripon Cathedral always rejoice in organising this service in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

It is a highlight of the early months of the year, a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution made to the common good by those who farm and work in food production industries, as well as many within rural communities.

We pray for God’s blessing on their efforts, as well as on our attempts to care for the environment. This is a service to which all are welcome.

Supporting the service

An address will be given by the Bishop of Ripon, The Right Reverend Anna Eltringham and a ploughshare will be presented at the service by members of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs for a blessing by The Very Rev Dobson.

A reading will be given by a member of Future Farmers of Yorkshire, a thriving network of farmers, vets and industry professionals supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

To mark the occasion, outside the Cathedral a tractor will be positioned, courtesy of Ripon Farm Services, and the Highside Longsword Dancers will be performing.

Local representatives of farming charities will also be in attendance.

A share of the proceeds from a collection will go towards the invaluable work of RABI (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution), a charity which provides guidance, financial support and practical care to farming people of all ages across England and Wales.

Anyone wishing to attend the Plough Sunday Service at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday 14th January 2024 is invited to gather from 2.30pm for hot pork rolls and drinks, before the service gets underway an hour later at 3.30pm.

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