Great Yorkshire Show will tackle big agricultural issues, says boss

Charles Mills, Great Yorkshire Show director.
Charles Mills, Great Yorkshire Show director.

The man at the helm of the Great Yorkshire Show has vowed that next month’s hotly-anticipated showpiece will embrace the dramatic changes afoot in the agricultural world and will tackle the big issues head-on.

This year’s show will be staged, should the Government’s talks with the European Commission remain on schedule, amid an international backdrop of Brexit negotiations that are likely to bring about the most seismic shift in the way the countryside and food and farming sectors are ruled and regulated since Britain joined the EU some 40 years ago.

Despite the inherent uncertainty of the situation, show director Charles Mills spoke of a “pretty positive” mood among the region’s farming fraternity ahead of the staging of the Great Yorkshire Show for the 159th time in just less than three weeks’ time.

He also told of a packed programme of seminars – an element of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s flagship three-day event that was introduced for the first time at last year’s show – that will cover key topics at this most knife-edge of times for British governance, and its consequences for the farming industry.

Mr Mills said: “I think the mood is pretty positive right now. Commodity prices are somewhat up, harvests are up on last year, the livestock market is pretty buoyant.

“We are obviously sat on the edge, and the reality of Brexit will come very quickly, but at least the Government has set some continuity about BPS (Basic Payment Scheme support payments) which gives some sort of certainty for businesses.

“Everything has improved because of commodity prices, having said that inputs have gone up, like the price of fertiliser.”

Of the show itself, he said: “I think we are trying to reflect what’s out there; you only need to look at the seminar list and the discussions that are set to take place. We are trying to reflect change in all sectors of the industry and the wider countryside, and you haven’t to forget that all farms have now moved into some form of diversification.

“These changes are here to stay and farming will continue to change.

“We have a good programme of events and I think we have something new for everyone.”

The show’s seminar series runs across all three days of the show, which will be held at the Harrogate showground from Tuesday, July 11 to Thursday, July 13. On the agenda are debates on topics including cyber fraud, Brexit, new drone and precision technology, farm diversification and agricultural innovation.

More than 130,000 visitors are expected to attend the show and Mr Mills said he hoped that new Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, will be one of them.

“Hopefully,” he said. “In conjunction with the National Farmers’ Union we are working hard and hopefully we get as many politicians as we can to come along.”

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Security arrangements have been reviewed by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society ahead of this year’s show in light of the recent atrocities in Manchester and London.

In a statement, the society said: “We want to reassure visitors that we working in partnership with North Yorkshire Police and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office to deliver a safe and enjoyable show.

The society added: “We have carried out a full review of our security arrangements and contingency plans which have been approved by North Yorkshire Police – and we will continue to do so.

“There will be a visible police presence and we are implementing extra security measures both before and during the Great Yorkshire Show, including bag checks which may be in place at the entrances to the showground.”