THE Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network has been in existence for almost 15 years with a mission to provide support to farmers and their businesses, whatever challenges or opportunities they may face.

The beautiful landscapes of the Dales are intertwined with beef, sheep, dairy and even some arable farming, but in common with many parts of the UK, the industry is feeling pretty challenged at present.

Changes to government policy and support payments remain unclear and heavily focussed on environment rather than food production, but the Farmer Network’s role is to provide information and knowledge to farmers on what is available, or new to the industry.

Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network chairman Richard Stockdale says: “We are all proud farmers. We want to keep on doing what we do, producing food and looking after land and livestock, but we also recognise that we have a greater role to play in improving the natural environment. As a community Dales Farmers are up for the challenge.”

Working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which runs the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme, several farmer workshops are already in the diary in what is a very busy start to the New Year for the Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network.

'DIY SFI and How to Meet the Standards' will be the topic of discussion at Hall Beck, Killington on January 25 in a joint Yorkshire Dales/Cumbria event.

Speakers Jane le Coq and Kate Waller will advise farmers on best practice to collect soil samples, meet the SFI soil standards and how to keep necessary records. Jane and Kate will also talk though the main actions for improved and unimproved grassland including herbal ley establishment and moorland standards.

The next meeting will take place on February 26, at the Fountain Hotel, Hawes, is a diversification workshop, which will include presentations from farmer Elizabeth Hird who created a granola and muesli business from scratch at Yockenthwaite farm.

Also joining the discussion is Richard Hall from WDS accountants who will talk through the tax implications involved in setting up a diversified business from the farm. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority planning officer Peter Stockton will talk through planning implications needed in the Dales area.

On February 29, at Ling Chapel Farm, Beamsley, an animal health event will include the latest advice on sustainable worm control. Guest speakers include Mark Thompson Craven Vets, Frank Turnbull of FecPac, and farmers Christine and Richard Grange.

A re-arranged workshop on succession and retirement planning is now scheduled for February 13 at Settle Rugby Club. Guest speakers include Michael McGarry, Keith Johnston Armstrong and Watson, and Peter Beresford FCN. This is funded by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

For details of these events, see