Brexit presents Harrogate farming community with "new opportunities"

Scenes at this year's Great Yorkshire Show
Scenes at this year's Great Yorkshire Show

The farming community has a chance to “stand on its own two feet” following the vote to leave the EU, according to a Nidderdale farmer.

David Smith, a second generation dairy farmer, argued that too much manufacturing had been lost in the country and that Brexit presented “new opportunities”.

The 66-year-old, former president of the Nidderdale Agricultural Society, farms 120 dairy cows at Shepherd Lodge near Brimham Rocks.

He explained that the dairy farming industry has watched the price of milk plummet over the last 12 months with farmers losing 30 per cent on its price.

However, Mr Smith said the industry has noticed a slight turn in fortunes since the Brexit vote and has called on young farmers to embrace any new agricultural policies.

He said: “I’m hoping that the vote will create some better opportunities for farmers but the younger farmers have to look positively at the situation.

“I want to see the British farming community stand on its own two feet. I want us to move forward and not be told what we have to do on every little detail.

“There’s been far too many rules and regulations on farmers in the EU. We need to be left to get on with the job.

“It’s anybody’s guess what will happen after Brexit as we were not given a lot of facts and figures. But I hope there will be a more common sense approach going forward.”

Under EU membership, farmers were given access to a market of more than 500 million people as well as benefiting from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The CAP was introduced by the EU to stabilise markets, ensure the quality of produce and make sure prices were fair for both the farmers and consumers.

Despite missing out on subsidies paid to producers, Mr Smith is hoping the government will devise a replacement policy which will prioritise agriculture.

He said: “I hope this will make it better for farmers in all areas. The support payments that we will get by not putting money into the EU should be fairly shared out.

“But, I would rather see a fair market price for produce and not get any support in an ideal world. But, we are a long way off that.

“In the milk industry we have seen a glimmer of light in these last few weeks. Our advice is just to hang in there and survive the next few months,

“Hopefully things will get better and we are cautiously optimistic.”