After six years of planning and consultation with farming communities across the county, Northumberland farmers now have their own Farmer Network.

Funding from the National Lottery and further support from the Royal Countryside Fund has ensured that the new network can develop over the next four years and beyond.

The Farmer Network now covers Cumbria, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland with an aim to support farmers, whatever challenges they face, and highlight opportunities to make their business viable and sustainable. All the networks are farmer-led, and Northumberland has a management council of farmers located strategically across the county.

Farmers pay a small membership fee to access a range of support services.

The Northern Farmer: Rachael Graham, Northumberland Farmer Network Coordinator (left) and Helen Bullock (Northumberland Farmer Network Project Manager)

Over the past few months, The Farmer Network has already held several well-attended farmer events and has also begun to deliver the Defra-funded Farm for the Future programme in Allendale. Collaborations with like-minded organisations and businesses are strengthening the networks’ ability to support farmers, with more projects and events planned throughout 2024.

The Northumberland Farmer Network officially launched at Hexham Auction Mart on Friday, January 26. The event included guest speakers Lord Curry of Kirkharle and head of agriculture at Armstrong Watson and farmer, Andrew Robinson.

The Northern Farmer: Debby Flannery, National Lottery (left) and Adam Day, Managing Director of The Farmer Network (right)

Andrew said ‘‘It was a pleasure and a privilege to speak at the launch event for the Northumberland farmer network. The network is a great organisation run by farmers to support farmers."

Lord Curry added: "Farmers are facing the biggest upheaval in support for over 70 years, and many are deeply concerned about the impact of the removal of the BPS. Not only has the management of land become very complicated, with lots of options to consider and huge demands being placed those who farm it, but we seem to be having extreme weather events every month.

"It is essential that farmers are well informed as to the choices available to them, to make sure they make right decisions for the future success of their businesses, which is why the launch of the Farmer Network is so important and timely. I would encourage all to sign up."

The launch event attracted a large attendance from the farming community and representatives of partner organisations.

The Northern Farmer: The audience at the event prior to the speakers

Northumberland Farmer Network coordinator, Rachael Graham said: "It was great to see so many farmers attending that we have already engaged with over the last few months. It shows that they believe in what we are doing to support them."

The network's project manager Helen Bullock added: "We have worked hard over the last few months planning in order to launch the network in Northumberland. The event was a great success, and we look forward to supporting farmers in future."

For more information about the network, call 01768 868615 or email