Farming Connect Study Visit - North Wales Women’s Farming Group

North Wales Women’s Farming Group

Great Yorkshire Show 

12 - 13 July 2022

We travelled to show on the Monday and visited the show on the Tuesday and Wednesday, taking the shuttle bus from Harrogate to the showground. We were held up on the way to the show by the arrival of Princess Anne, as she landed in a helicopter immediately beside our shuttle bus. Harrogate is a beautiful clean city, and the surrounding countryside is rich in farming land.

Our initial impression was of an extremely well organised and welcoming show. We were greeted on leaving the shuttle bus, and welcomed to the show, asking us what we wanted to see in particular, and offering any help to enable us to have a successful visit. 

We soon found that it was the celebration of 200 years of the Shorthorn Society, and the shorthorn cattle dominated the livestock area. There was a good show of both beef and dairy shorthorns.

The show is set in its permanent grounds, with brilliant brick-built sheds for the cattle, with excellent fans keeping them cool, and a huge amount of bedding under all livestock. As it was very hot on the two days we were there, it was good to see them well looked-after. We all commented on the cleanliness of the showground, and how new and old build blended in well together.

We spent some time initially in the livestock area, watching judging, and admiring the superb quality of the stock in the cattle, sheep, pig and goat areas. 

We were pleased to support a local Texel breeder in competition when we were there, with a fourth placement in a very large class of fantastic Texels. 

We spent some time talking to local breeders and asking about the typical farming production in the immediate area.

We had booked into two of the talks held throughout the day in the GYS pavilion, and that was well worth attending. 

The first one was Peter Wright (Yorkshire vet), and his talk was very enlightening, hearing about his life as a vet and how he became famous with his TV series. He talked about how veterinary practices had changed with use of MRI scans, blood tests and modern technology, instead of what used to be an eye examination to determine what an animal was suffering from.

The second one was with Adam Henson from Countryfile. He talked passionately about climate change, and how important it was for us to do all we can to recognise the need for locally produced food for the general public. 

Adam recognised that with rising costs, food is no longer a 100% priority for families. He talked about the ongoing issue of air miles in relation to products such as an avocado – which not only uses air miles to a massive degree, but rivers have been diverted from what was good farmland to water the avocado plant.

Adam talked about the ever-increasing role of women in agriculture, and gave us an example of how things have changed since he has been presenting awards and giving talks to agricultural and veterinary students. One veterinary college he went to recently used to have a ratio of 75% male students to 25% female. Now, this has completely changed to 160 female trainee vets and 15 males.  Quite a dramatic change, which we were pleased to hear, being female ourselves, but did question why such a dramatic change over the recent years.

Adam talked about the excess of red tape within farming now, and the need to keep the morale of the countryside up.

The food hall was excellent, with a good variety of produce displayed in a fantastic air-conditioned building. All producers were so welcoming, and interested to hear what we produced and the standard of products was exceptional and the passion they exuded was good to see, and how we would recognise our own enthusiasm for the production of good-quality healthy stock and crops.

The GYS hub was an excellent centre for meeting celebrities in the farming world, who were passionate about their work and farming practices. Each day, there were different speakers, who held three sessions daily, and attracted full crowds to each one.

We were disappointed with the forestry section, which was very compact indeed. We had expected something on a much larger scale, especially with global issues and our own current need for 10% tree or environmental schemes on farms. Compared to other shows we have attended, it was on a very small scale.

The trade stands were of a very high standard, with really good-quality stock, and we all remarked that there were very few – if any – what we would call ‘rubbish stalls’. 

Again, local suppliers very proud of their products.

We, as always, were proud to be farmers and part of the farming community. We recognised that the area was extremely productive, with large fields full of crops and a lot of barley and wheat and good arable grazing land as we travelled to and from the show.

We all concluded that we could have easily spent the four full days there, and would certainly go again in the future.

We would like to thank you for the opportunity to attend this show, and we can assure you we took every opportunity to see as much as we could in our two days there. They had restricted numbers of visitors because of Covid, which was to our advantage. 

We will look at any future shows and also events that are purely farming-related, to give our group the opportunity to access knowledge, training and keep up to date with current farming innovation and governmental policies.

The added bonus is to have time to talk together, learning from each other and sharing farming practices and comparing everyday situations that arise in our farming businesses.