Powering ahead at the Great Yorkshire Show

CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas' reflections - written after the second day of the Yorkshire Show - first published in the Yorkshire Post

By CLA Director North, Lucinda Douglas

We were delighted to have been part of this year’s Great Yorkshire Show, particularly as we have historically been part of it for at least 50 years.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has deep roots in Yorkshire, and in fact, was formed in York in 1907 in response to proposals on land nationalisation and on compulsory purchase of land without compensation.

Over the course of this year’s four-day show, we had at least a thousand visitors to our stand, with hundreds of CLA members and non-members attending our various top-notch speaker events, which saw some big hitters in the agri-rural sector share their insights and experiences.

On Tuesday for instance, we hosted the CLA President’s Breakfast which was attended by close to 170 visitors, including members of the Efra Select Committee led by Sir Robert Goodwill, and MPs Barry Gardiner and Rosie Duffield.

Topics covered at our breakfast and afternoon speaker events centred on aspects around land use, including associated topics such as carbon sequestration, natural capital, biodiversity net gain and nutrient neutrality. It was important to consider current government policy against the thoughts of landowners, farmers, as well as the private sector.

We also hosted a super-enjoyable and interesting CLA Women’s Network drinks reception with CLA Deputy President Victoria Vyvyan who reflected on the role of women in the rural economy. Laura Guillon, partner at Hall Brown Solicitors talk focussed on the legal profession, and how changes in the law have benefited women over time.

Victoria was joined by Hall Brown Solicitors’ Partner Laura Guillon who spoke on the legal profession, and how changes in the law have impacted positively on women.

Gillian Carlisle, Chief Executive at The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre reflected passionately about the vital role of women in raising societal awareness of animal welfare. Gillian super-impressed that activities involving animals, such as horse racing, should always have animal welfare at the forefront to ensure continued public support to safeguard their sport for future generations.

For me, it is always insightful listening to what speakers have to say, and equally important, the questions asked by event attendees.

In addition to speaking to our members and guests, our presence at the show allows us to have meaningful discussions with other rural bodies and organisations which included MPs, Ministers, government officials, as well as private sector professionals. Taking stock of these conversations ultimately feeds into our lobbying actions to serve the interest of our members and beyond.

We were fortunate to have had conversations, to name only a few, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, Defra’s Future Farming Programme Director Janet Hughes, and the RPA’s Chief Executive Paul Caldwell who answered questions at a roundtable discussion with Yorkshire farmers. In addition, we hosted expert speakers from private sector professionals from HSBC, Virgin Money, Savills, GSC Grays, Saffery Champness, Hall Brown Solicitors and Crosby Granger architects.

Many rural businesses rely on the Great Yorkshire Show as an opportunity to showcase their livestock and to demonstrate their fantastic produce, products and services to thousands of people in Yorkshire and beyond.

The show provides a great variety and number of activities that draws together visitors from all walks of life and backgrounds and more generally showcases massive contribution the farming and rural businesses make to a thriving, and well-fed, society as a whole.

It would be fantastic if all politicians from all persuasions – starting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as his constituency has the largest number of farmers in it compared to all other constituencies across the country - can give their wholehearted commitment to the UK’s rural areas.

Next year’s Great Yorkshire Show will most likely coincide with politicians lobbying for your vote at the next General Election, and my hope is that all political parties will include pledges to support the rural economy in their manifestos. It will be interesting to see if they do.