First industry trip for new Yorkshire Farmers Club

Fiona Macdonald, Coordinator of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society introduces the Network’s new Yorkshire Farmers Club.

A photograph circulating on social media earlier in the year showed the British Sugar factory in Newark surrounded by flood water.

It was an emblematic image of British agriculture at the start of the year: a thoroughly wet, costly and frustrating season of submerged crops and pastures.

Last week however, that same location was an altogether different picture.

Farming is still caught up in the longest sugar beet campaign in memory, and normally the Newark factory is a hive of activity at this time of the year before it closes this month.

Nationally, some 22 per cent of sugar beet is still in the ground and so the factory is not due to open for processing until Easter, but amid the lull, British Sugar kindly welcomed a visit from the new Yorkshire Farmers Club.

Programme of industry visits

A new initiative of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the Yorkshire Farmers Club has been set up to give more senior members of the county’s working farming community the chance to meet up, off-farm and in likeminded company for industry visits.

The Yorkshire Farmers Club is essentially a social club for people who still have active farming minds, who are still involved in a farm business, perhaps have more time to get off farm and welcome the chance to be immersed in current industry intrigue.

The Club has the potential to help tackle social isolation and loneliness in the community by reconnecting farming people and creating opportunities for likeminded people to perhaps forge new friendships.

When we met up for the Club’s trip to Newark, it felt like we had hit upon a good thing.

There were lots of hugs and reunions between people who knew each other but had perhaps not been in touch for a while.

We had farmers, retired feed reps and agronomists, some of whom brought a friend.

It was wonderful to see people come together in this spirit and enjoy visiting somewhere that they would perhaps not otherwise get to see.

Behind the scenes tour

We were kindly hosted by Nick Morris, British Sugar’s Head of Agriculture – Supply Chain, who made us feel very welcome.

Because of the current lifting conditions for beet, we were afforded greater access around the factory that we might otherwise had the factory been at its busiest.

We heard the full supply chain story and were shown how beet deliveries from different areas of the country could be identified from the colour of clumps of soil that hung to them.

It was particularly eye opening to hear that British Sugar makes more profit from the electricity it generates and sells back into the National Grid than it does from processing sugar.

I got the sense that everyone enjoyed the trip. The chatter was telling!

Next up

After a really positive day, we look forward to hosting the next Yorkshire Farmers Club get-together.

Next time this will be at a location in Yorkshire and will again be completely free of charge.

Our next industry visit will be held in early May and details will be publicised soon.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the Yorkshire Farmers Club, please get in touch by emailing

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