THERE was a fantastic turnout for the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFYFC) annual forum, held by kind permission of Thirsk Auction Mart.

The panel was made up of former National Farmers’ Union (NFU) representative in Brussels, James Mills, who has recently returned home to work on his family’s sheep and arable farm near York, Pennine sheep farmer and NFU member David Airey, chief operating officer of the Local Enterprise Partnership for North and East Yorkshire James Farrar, and former MP Anne McIntosh, now Baroness of Pickering. The evening was chaired by former chairman of YFYFC Ian Close.

Talking about the government’s handling of Brexit, James Mills said the farming community was tired of “short-term policies” when they are trying to operate long-term businesses.

David Airey urged the younger members of the audience to get engaged in all the current farming debates and start telling the public what they do.

Baroness McIntosh seconded this, saying: “The message is never more credible than when it is from the farmer.”

James Farrar urged the audience to remain positive and use Brexit to take stock and make sure their farms are fit for purpose.

“Whatever happens, we need to make the sure the next generation has the skills they need to survive; to make sure their businesses are fit for purpose.”

Other subjects like the lack of retirement opportunities for farmers were discussed and the need for affordable housing,

Ian Close wrapped up the meeting by urging delegates to go away and “be positive, think outside the box and sell yourselves” before thanking panellists, sponsors and all those who made the event possible.