DEFRA officials met with local farmers this month to discuss the future Agricultural Bill and the impact Brexit could have on the industry.

The event, which took place at Hexham Mart, was hosted and organised by Tyne Rivers Trust, and provided an opportunity for 30 farmers from across the county, who are members of the trust’s facilitation fund, to speak to the Government about all things Brexit, and air their views on proposed policies.

Speakers included Lord Donald Curry, who sits in the House of Lords and is also a trustee of Tyne Rivers Trust, Guy Horsington, deputy director of the Future Farming team at Defra, and Defra policy advisers Anthony Pike and John Hustler.

The discussions centred on the impact of Brexit and the effect it could have on rural businesses; ways in which DEFRA could communicate and support farmers through the transition period ahead; changes in regulatory processes including direct payments and the Country Stewardship Scheme; future opportunities for research and development and knowledge exchange, and the Government’s plan to design a market place for public money for public goods.

Danielle Anderson-Walker, farms liaison officer at the Tyne Rivers Trust said: “The event provided a fantastic opportunity for farmers to help shape future farming policy and voice their concerns, as well as offering DEFRA a chance to speak with farmers directly. We received positive feedback from attendees, many of whom felt that before now their voices hadn’t been heard.

“We wanted it to be an open and honest discussion and I think that’s what farmers were able to have.”