Learning Through Land at the Great Yorkshire Showground – 11th March 2024

Land-based challenges and opportunities for rural businesses will be explored at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate on Monday 11th March.

Farmers and wider industry professionals are invited along to the event, entitled ‘Learning Through Land: A Confluence’.

Held by the Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network and sponsored by Grow Yorkshire, it will provide insights into innovative ways for rural businesses to diversify their income at a time of great change in British agriculture.

The Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Part of the Network’s role is to host events to inspire new horizons and showcase emerging opportunities for food, farming and rural businesses.

Opportunities amid challenges

Madge Moore, Chair of the Network said:

It has been a sobering start to 2024 for rural businesses affected by a sustained period of wet weather.

In the Humber and East Yorkshire region, broad estimates are that up to £3m worth of crops may have been lost to flooding.

It serves as a stark reminder of the climate change challenge we face and must mitigate and adapt to, whilst at the same time making changes to best capitalise on the Government’s new agricultural policies.

This may sound daunting but there are significant opportunities to explore, to spread a business’s exposure to risk; to adapt, survive and thrive.

You could say these environmental and financial challenges have created a confluence; a meeting of factors that send us in a new direction, so, this is a period of opportunity too.

Event line-up

The Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network’s Learning Through Land event will be a chance to hear about some of the ways rural businesses can explore new markets and opportunities.

Taking place between 9.30am and 2pm, including lunch and refreshments, the event will share knowledge on land-based opportunities, energy efficiency and food supply chain solutions.

Delegates will hear from a panel of inspiring speakers, and will also be invited to join a series of breakout sessions focused on key topics: food and policy, farming and new markets, and rural and energy.

Tickets are £30 and attendance is open to all who work in food, farming, and rural businesses and organisations, as well as government representatives, industry advisors and community representatives.

Meet our speakers

David Kerfoot CBE DL, Chair of the Fix Our Food Commission

David is a passionate social entrepreneur and has a long history of community service.

He is a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire and was High Sheriff of North Yorkshire for the year 2020-21.

The FixOurFood Commission aims to provide a cohesive voice for Yorkshire food system transformation supporting healthy people, thriving businesses and a flourishing planet.

David Kerfoot

Mark Cunliffe-Lister, Swinton Park Estate

Mark’s initial professional calling was as a geophysicist for the mining and oil industries, before he set up Swinton Park Ltd in 2000. Swinton Park is a hotel, spa and cookery school.

In 2006, Mark took on the running of 20,000-acre Swinton Estate, which is a mixture of farmland, moorland and forestry. The Estate leases the farmland but runs the moorland and forestry in-hand along with sporting and other commercial interests.

Swinton Estate offers a luxurious experience while integrating produce and activities from the land around it.

Sue Jefferson, Co-founder and Director of Circular Malton & Norton CIC

Following more than 30 years in UK director and global leadership roles within the food and grocery industry and now as a business development consultant, Sue shares her proven approaches in change management, strategy, innovation and manufacturing productivity to enable teams to deliver continual business outperformance.

Sue Jefferson

Sue also offers practical solutions to leverage the economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by Diversity of Thinking and the Circular Economy, most recently demonstrating this by translating the work of York’s bioeconomy experts to champion Circular Malton; creating exciting town wide initiatives that engage the hesitant majority and seek to leverage the economic advantages of becoming the UK’s first circular economy market town.

Andy Howard

Andy Howard, CEO of CSX Carbon

Being unable to help a major car manufacturer plant trees in the UK started Andy Howard on his CSX journey. Having created the largest new private-sector woodland in England for 30 years, Doddington North, Andy understands how rooted forestry industry practices are.

However, modern corporate buyers of carbon, and now biodiversity, offsets demand a paradigm shift in audit and measurement of offset delivery.

CSX integrate updated scientific understanding with remote sensing earth observation data, analysed through AI, to provide business solutions.

Lisa Howkins, Sales & Marketing Director, NFU Energy

Lisa has over a decade of experience in the energy sector, having worked with businesses across multiple industries worldwide, driving innovation and steering enterprises towards a more energy-efficient and sustainable future.

NFU Energy, backed by the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, conducted comprehensive on-site energy efficiency audits and renewables feasibility assessments across 16 farms.

Lisa will explain outcomes and insights into renewable energy prospects, and how these farms are now taking a step towards a more sustainable future.

Bruce Heppenstall, Plant Director, Drax Power Station

Reducing emissions is a top priority in the race to net zero, but getting there will requires technologies that actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is the only technology that can deliver large-scale carbon removals while also generating renewable energy.

Drax is set to be one of the first power stations in the world to be fitted with BECCS. It will reduce the cost of cutting emissions for industries that are struggling to decarbonise, such as aviation and agriculture.

Will Raw, farmer in North Yorkshire

Will’s mixed farm consists of 250 acres of arable land and a 230,000 bird broiler unit, supplying poultry meat to the wholesale market.

In addition, Will sits on the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) National Poultry Board, the Red Tractor Technical Advisory Committee and DEFRA’s Animal Health and Welfare Technical Advisory Panel for poultry.

The Yorkshire Food Farming and Rural Network champions the needs of farming, agri-food, rural businesses, and rural communities to enable them to become more resilient, competitive, and sustainable.

Learning Through Land: A Confluence is kindly sponsored by Grow Yorkshire.

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