CHALLENGES and opportunities facing The Farmer Network Ltd were discussed at its 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The Network, which includes Cumbria, Northumberland and Yorkshire is dealing with increased business costs and expansion as a result of the farming community.

Managing Director, Adam Day reiterated the team's desire to keep supporting farmers through a difficult time of transition within the industry. Also how the company constantly tries to promote the value and benefit that farmers bring to food production and managing the natural environment.

Senior Operations Manager Donna Gough revealed how last year the company incurred a deficit of £7.4K which was budgeted for and expected, due to increased business costs and in part the cost of moving the Head Office to larger and more suitable premises within Penrith Auction Mart.

In view of this it was agreed to increase farmer member fees to £96 plus VAT annual for a direct debit payment.

Senior Project Manager Veronica Waller gave an overview of an ever-increasing portfolio of farm support projects. Once again last year the company delivered more than 120 farm meetings, workshops and on-farm events, all designed to increase farmers knowledge and share good working practices. The company continues to build strong partnerships with trusted organisations that share the same ethos to support the farming community.

Members also voted to allow amendment of the company’s Articles of Association, enabling the inclusion of the Northumberland Network.

Members heard that after many years loyal service to the Farmer Network, Randal Raine was to step down from the main board but would still play an active role on the farmer management council.

The Cumbria Farmer Network will be represented at board level by new chair David Watson from Longtown and outgoing chair Richard Martin of Great Orton

Guest speaker Dave Morland, Head Butchery for the Westmorland Family, gave a light-hearted but informative talk about his working life from the family farm, to his career as a slaughterman, meat inspector and butcher, and how he helped develop the Westmorland motorway farm shops which are so popular today in Cumbria and Gloucestershire.