Grow Yorkshire, supported by leading members of Yorkshire’s agricultural sector, has written an open letter to the Government calling for its commitment to ensure a healthy future for the region’s rural economy.
A major new collaborative initiative, Grow Yorkshire, which is co-ordinated by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding (YNYER) Local Enterprise Partnership, has been established to act as a positive voice for the industry centred on cultivating enterprise and ensuring prosperity for Yorkshire’s farming and food businesses in a post-Brexit world.
The agricultural sector makes a £438m contribution to the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding economy and Grow Yorkshire, backed by key stakeholders across the region, aims to capitalise on the potential for businesses to seek greater profitability.
The letter, signed by a wide range of people and organisations who work with farming and food businesses, including the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, NFU, CLA and Deliciously Yorkshire, will be sent to Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Robert Goodwill, the MP for Scarborough and Whitby, and calls for the Government to recognise the priority needs of the sector in the region and to work in partnership with Grow Yorkshire to achieve these.
Priorities include providing business planning support, guidance on income opportunities, managing change and succession and encouraging farming and food innovation.
A dedicated Grow Yorkshire website will act as a hub where farmers and other businesses can find information and access to support, including training and funding.
The letter states: “Farming is central to the economic, environmental and social fabric of our great county of Yorkshire. The farmers and food companies based in Yorkshire don’t just feed the nation; they manage globally important landscapes which support a thriving tourism industry. They are the bedrock of our rural communities and provide crucial public goods that benefit wider society.
“We are the people and organisations closest to our farmers and food producers. We understand their pressing needs, and the areas of opportunity. This is why we have created Grow Yorkshire as a platform to create and communicate solutions to grow farm incomes and productivity, positively impacting food production and ultimately grasping the opportunities that will undoubtedly arise from this period of uncertainty.”
David Kerfoot, chairman of YNYER LEP, said: “Grow Yorkshire is taking a pioneering approach to help deliver a positive future for our farmers and rural communities.
“We have invited Robert Goodwill and other senior Government representatives to meet with us so that we can positively take our priorities forward.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the Government for the benefit of the rural economy and the many thousands of people and businesses whose livelihoods depend on it.”
Backing the campaign, Adam Bedford, North East regional director at the NFU, said: “We work with thousands of farmers across Yorkshire and the North East and we know how creative and innovative they can be.
“Farmers are very focussed on what changes will mean for their business in what is an uncertain time and are trying to prepare and plan ahead. The collaborative approach through Grow Yorkshire to focus on helping farm businesses become more profitable for the long term is very welcome.”
CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “The CLA, which was founded in York more than 112 years ago, is standing shoulder to shoulder with farming and rural organisations in the region to amplify the countryside’s voice across the region and ensure that it remains both resilient and prosperous in future.
“Grow Yorkshire bangs a drum for Yorkshire’s agriculture, and will lead the way for other LEPs to follow.”
Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said: “At last there is recognition of the pressures that farmers and the agricultural sector is under and we welcome this new initiative to support the industry and make its needs a priority at the highest level.
“The Yorkshire Agricultural Society is proud to be part of Grow Yorkshire and believes that we are stronger together in making a positive change for the industry.”