Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services AGM told finance, legislation changes and bad weather top farmers' main worries (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services AGM told finance, legislation changes and bad weather top farmers' main worries
THE demands placed on a charity which provides vital support to farming families in rural County Durham remain as high as ever – but attracting funding continues to be a huge challenge.
That was the message at the annual meeting of the Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS).
A National Lottery grant covering three years runs out in June, and although another bid has been submitted, UTASS officials say it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure funding.
The financial statement for the year ended December 2012 showed UTASS had a deficit of almost £22,000, with outgoings totalling £238,531 against income of £216,561.
Chairman Dr Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore said: “Trying to fund UTASS has been an ongoing problem – it's how and where you can find recurring funding.
“We have been relatively lucky with three years of Lottery money, but the workload and demands on UTASS have been larger last year than they were during foot and mouth.”
He said as a result, UTASS had been forced to look for various new methods of generating income.
“The Friends of UTASS, UTASS Endowment Fund, localgiving.com, sponsorship and the setting up of a new community interest company are some of the new routes we worked on throughout the year,” he added.
With more than 1,700 members, covering 472 farms and 172 other households and organisations, UTASS is the largest charity in the Durham dales.
Based in Middleton-in-Teesdale, its support services range from helping farmers with form filling to running training courses and operating a drop-in centre for young people.
With the help of volunteers, UTASS also offers year-round out of office support 24 hours a day for those with urgent needs.
The annual meeting was told finance, keeping up-to-date with legislation and problems caused by the weather had been the main worries for upper Teesdale's farming community during the last 12 months.
Dr Nainby-Luxmoore added: “The wet weather proved very problematic for our farmers.
“Many were unable to take tractors onto the land, leading to grass having to be left in fields and, consequently, shortages of winter feed for their stock.”
Highlights during the last 12 months included a third visit in ten years to UTASS by Prince Charles.
Dr Nainby-Luxmoore concluded: “We will move into another year with a positive approach and willingness to provide help whenever and wherever it is required.”