Farming Minister George Eustice paid a visit to the North East yesterday to address the Northern Farming Conference at Hexham Mart.
In his speech, Mr Eustice discussed a range of measures being taken to help farmers increase their resilience, from encouraging local groups to share information and help each other strengthen their businesses to developing tailored weather forecasts and information for farmers.
The work has led this week to the publication of a Met Office-hosted Get Ready for Winter webpage targeted specifically at farm businesses, which will give farmers accurate and up-to-date information on the weather coming their way.
It follows a ten-point action plan to help farmers prepare for risks to their business, which was developed by major banks, farming charities and farming representatives at the Farming Resilience Summit earlier this year, convened by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson because of pressures put on farmers by bad weather.
Mr Eustice said: “The farming industry has always had to contend with risk but the harsh winter last year had a devastating impact on many farmers.
“As we enter winter it is essential we do all we can to support the industry in its efforts to prepare and plan to mitigate risks.
“The Met Office’s Get Ready for Winter webpage is an example of joint working to make our industry more resilient.’’
Mr Eustice also sought views on how England should best invest its share of the UK’s £20bn Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to improve the natural environment, grow the rural economy and increase the competitiveness of the farming industry.
He said: “Businesses across the North East will have benefitted from a total of £35m of Rural Development Programme funding over the seven years to 2015, supporting hundreds of jobs. The Government wants to support more rural communities through Common Agricultural Policy funding, and I’m keen to hear the thoughts of northern farmers, businesses and local communities on this.”