THE Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network is celebrating its ten-year anniversary this month, following its formation in October 2010.

In 2009, a group of Yorkshire farmers with the help of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority were keen to explore whether the existing Cumbria Farmer Network model could work for the Yorkshire Dales.

With initial start-up funding from the Yorkshire Dales Leader programme and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund, a steering group was formed under the guidance of Farmer Network creator, Paul Harper, and chairman Will Rawling.

An inaugural AGM was called, and the first farmer management council created under chairman of Chris Clarke, of Nethergill Farm.

Current managing director, Adam Day, said: “The ethos of the Farmer Network has not changed since its creation. We remain an independent not-for-profit organisation with the aim of supporting viable and sustainable farming communities, whatever the challenge or opportunity.”

The Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network prides itself on being farmer-led with a management council of ten farmers strategically located throughout the Dales.

Chairman Derek Harker, from Upper Nidderdale in the Eastern Dales, is sure that the Network is more relevant than ever.

He said: “In these changing times, it is good to know that we have a support network dedicated to helping farming families and their businesses. Reliable information on policies, grants, funding and on-farm meetings are key elements to this and I am proud of the way this Is delivered by the Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network.”

The Yorkshire Dales Farmer Network operates a number of farm-related projects across the Dales, including Countryside Stewardship facilitation fund groups, Sustaining Farming in the Westmorland Dales, Grassroots farm business groups, the What’s Your Farming Ambition Programme, a Sheep Health project on liver fluke, and the Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme, together with member services including group fuel buying and training courses.

Adrian Shepherd, head of land management for The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “I remember well the initial set-up work we did with Paul Harper and Will Rawling of the Farmer Network, initially holding a series of meetings around the Dales with farmers to gauge their interest.

It was great following that initial work to establish the network ten years ago. We have worked on many partnership initiatives with the Farmer Network and its farmer members over the last tenyears and look forward to continuing that successful partnership into the future”