“Farmers – It’s time to talk” say The Farmer Network and The University of Exeter

“The farming industry is facing a period of profound change, perhaps the most significant since WW2” says The Farmer Network, an independent, not for profit organisation providing help and support to nearly 1,200 farmer members throughout Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales.

“At this moment, planning for the future is a difficult process. Understanding and taking advantage of new opportunities will be essential to farm viability going forward”.

The UK Farmer Group Discussion Network (FGDN) was established in 2018 by the University of Exeter to kick start independent, non-political debate about how to achieve an economically and environmentally sustainable farming sector.

The aim of this national network of farmer discussion groups is to help farmers informally debate with one another across the industry, and whilst not a lobbying organisation will provide a vehicle over time for those views to be heard by policy makers. In doing so this will build new relationships with government, environmentalists, and others such as supermarkets, away from the political spotlight. The idea is to create a managed exchange of views between farming and ‘non-farming’ voices so that better understanding can be built going forward.

FGDN has teamed up with the Farmer Network Ltd in the North of England to work with existing and new grass roots farmer groups. This includes local discussion groups, agricultural societies, and other farmer groups.  Group members discuss a rolling set of topics on a quarterly basis with responses then summarised and incorporated within a newsletter sent to all farmers participating in the discussion. In time it is hoped that this may lead to exchange visits and further discussion between groups across the country

The Farmer Network operates two independent networks in Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales. It also has growing links to farmers in other northern counties. Formed in the aftermath of the foot and mouth epidemic 2001, the Network is farmer- led and aims to help farm viability and sustainability by reacting positively to every challenge and every opportunity.

Adam Day, Managing Director of The Farmer Network comments:

‘Farming is integral to the rural economy and there is a period of significant change on the horizon. We are delighted to be teaming up with The University of Exeter to create a place where farmers can debate and express views regarding the future of farming and the agriculture industry more widely. These discussions are desperately needed and FGDN provides a strong and credible platform’

Alex Inman, founder of the FGDN at the University of Exeter comments:

‘It is my strongly held belief that the farming community has incredibly ingenuity, adaptability and a ‘can do’ attitude for which it should be proud. At the same time, due to the changing nature of the industry it has never been more important to share ideas, knowledge, and expertise. 

Our discussion platform will build connections and we consider it a distinct privilege to be working with The Farmer Network in the north of England on this venture.

FGDN is open to all existing or newly formed local farmer groups.  There are no costs involved and not all members of a given group need to participate.  All information and opinion provided by individuals remains strictly non attributable according to strict data protection and University of Exeter ethics regulations.  Farmer groups wishing to get involved or needing more information should contact:

Carol Moffat, Farmer Co-ordinator for The Farmer Network

Tel: 01539 621602            Email: Carol@thefarmernetwork.co.uk

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