TWO Tynedale farmers have taken up the reins as the newly elected chairman and vice-chairman for Northumberland National Farmers’ Union.

Cambo organic poultry and livestock farmer Simon Bainbridge has been appointed the role of county chairman, and will be working closely with new vice-chairman, dairy and arable farmer Tom Richardson, of Wheelbirks Farm, Stocksfield. Together the pair will be representing more than 800 farmers and growers across the county for two years.

In the face of Brexit, Simon said his priority was to maintain a strong focus on animal welfare, but he is also keen to offer better support to the mental health of the local farming community.

“People are under increasing stress and pressure, not just in the face of Brexit uncertainties but also as a result of price volatility and climate change,” he said. “As county chairman I really want to take this issue seriously and do more to support the farming families that are at the heart of our industry.”

Tom is keen to use his position to help ensure that the next generation of farmers inherit a thriving industry.

“It will be crucial to step up our efforts to connect with the next generation of shoppers and to reduce the disconnect between our towns and rural areas,” he said.

Tom also said he is keen to promote the opportunities associated with forestry – a business that his family has embraced and that now makes a valuable contribution to the farm’s income.

“I’m a firm believer that farming and forestry go hand in hand and I’d like to highlight the benefits to be gained from taking that approach,” said Tom.