THE independent panel set up to examine the challenges of rural communities in North Yorkshire is calling for farmers and agricultural workers to come forward as it launches its first inquiry.

Members of the county’s Rural Commission will spend the next eight months investigating ways of halting rural decline before forming a series of recommendations for North Yorkshire County Council to consider.

The first topic it will cover is farming, agriculture and the environment.

Panel chairman, the Very Reverend John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, said: “Farming and the pressures on our agricultural businesses, as well as the environment they are working in, are the topics of the moment and our decision to examine them first reflects this. We are very much in listening mode and want therefore to hear from farmers, local residents and businesses on those issues they believe the commission needs to consider.

“What are the key issues which affect these areas? What needs to be done to ensure they can survive and thrive looking ten, 20 and 30 years ahead? Do you have practical ideas?

“We will be listening carefully to a broad range of views and considering the evidence so that later next year we can pull this baseline together and make meaningful recommendations on a vision for the future.”

The commissioners will hear some evidence in person but will also be examining submissions made via email to

Guidance on the best way to submit evidence and opinions, raise points of interest or highlight matters of importance is available at

The first evidence session will be held in December. Subsequent subjects and calls for evidence to support the commission’s work will follow. Future themes will include transport and digital connectivity, education and training, housing, economy and jobs.

The commission has been set up by the county council but operates independently.