A mixed livestock and arable farmer from Withernsea and a dairy farmer from Melbourne near York have taken up the reins as the newly elected chairman and vice chairman for the NFU’s York East county.
Angela Kirkwood and Paul Tompkins have started a two year term of office representing more than 1,600 farmers and growers across a diverse agricultural area stretching from the Humber Estuary to north of Pickering and Scarborough.
As the new county chairman, Angela says she is excited to be heading up the NFU’s county team, adding that with Brexit on the horizon, there will be some challenges ahead for all local farming businesses.
With a wealth of experience both within the NFU – having held various positions for the last seven years – and in wider industry, Angela hopes to support her fellow farmers and at the same time actively engage with the public to highlight how the industry delivers a fantastic larder of local produce.
“Having spent many years showing an average of 500 people a year round my farm to give people an insight into local food production, I hope to do even more during my time as county chairman,” she said.
“British farmers have a fantastic story to tell in terms of the standards we meet and the quality we deliver, while working hard to protect and enhance the farmed environment.
“With Brexit on the horizon, our domestic market will be crucial for all farm businesses, so we must devote even more time and energy to promoting what we do and how we do it.”
Angela also wants to do all she can to represent local farmers through a period set to deliver the biggest change in the industry for a generation.
“Our county is home to a very diverse range of farm businesses from arable, livestock and dairy farms to glasshouse horticultural production. I want to make sure they all have a voice within the NFU as we work to influence the development of our first domestic agriculture policy.”
Working alongside Angela will be dairy farmer Paul Tompkins who said he was interested in responding to the scourge of rural crime – from fly tipping to hare coursing – and the challenge of climate change.
“Rural crime is something that impacts so many members, affecting both their business and family life. Rural crime is not victimless and I hope we can work more closely with the police to tackle cross-border crime particularly.
“On climate change, we are being challenged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and need to ensure that mitigation tools are available for all farmers, no matter what their business.”
Angela and Paul will also work alongside Driffield arable and livestock farmer, John Gatenby, who continues as the county’s elected delegate to the NFU’s national council.