Record entries have flooded in ahead of the return next month of England’s premier agricultural show, despite the industry’s cash flow crisis.
Rather than low farmgate prices keeping farmers away, they appear to be more determined than ever to be part of the Great Yorkshire Show - which falls at a time of great uncertainty.
On top of low prices for produce because of an out-of-kilter supply and demand for farmed goods globally, the show falls just over two weeks after Britain goes to the polls in the referendum over the nation’s membership of the European Union.
Around 130,000 visitors will flock to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Harrogate showground on July 12-14 to see the best of an industry whose future will be shaped by the outcome of the vote on June 23. Farming receives almost a third of the EU’s total budget through Common Agricultural Policy payments.
Charles Mills, the Society’s show director, said: “Whichever way the vote goes it won’t change the show. Farming will go on. My message to visitors is to come along and see our new attractions. There is a lot to see and I hope they really enjoy it.
“The show is about farming but also just as much about the countryside.”
There are record entries in the show’s thriving sheep section, plus record-setting numbers of Aberdeen Angus and Beef Shorthorn animals due to take part. The swell of Angus entries is boosted by the breed society’s summer national show being held at the Great Yorkshire this year.
For the first time at a British agricultural show, a live robotic milking demonstration using the Lely system will take place. A purpose-built dairy unit is being constructed to host the new feature where siblings Edward and Victoria Goodall, who farm near Leeds, will milk 40 Holstein cows.
Eight of the UK’s top ten-selling tractors will be displayed in the show’s machinery section, while the showground’s new £11.5m exhibition hall will host a food emporium and a series of ‘precision farming’ themed seminars.
Mr Mills said he hoped the line-up for the 158th show will inspire visitors and farmers alike.
“If our farming visitors see something new, like the robotic milkers, it might give them a different idea for their own farm,” he said. “But more than anything else, for farmers, this is a social gathering point. Maybe they only get together once a year so that has to continue.”
For Mr Mills, who farms at Appleton Roebuck near York, this will be his first show as the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s show director.
He initially joined the Society as a council member and was charged with overseeing the show’s trade stands in 2002, but he has attended the show since he was a schoolboy.
He said: “I used to come and sit in the grandstand with my parents in corduroy trousers and I never dreamed I would be in the position I am now. It’s a huge honour.
“Working with the team we have got here is absolutely wonderful. It was one of the reasons I took the job. They are dedicated and committed to our industry.”
WIDE RANGE OF ATTRACTIONS
The 158th Great Yorkshire Show will aim to highlight the best of British farming and the countryside.
Besides the livestock classes, attractions include displays by the motorcycle display team, Bolddog Lings, as well as international show jumping, a garden show, art Show and more than 1,300 stands with everything from jacuzzis to combine harvesters on display.
Fashion shows will also take place four times a day.
Tickets bought before July 6 are priced £23 adults, £10 children, £56 for families of up to two adults and three children.
Prices on the gates will be £27, £13 and £67.
To book tickets in advance, visit www.greatyorkshireshow.co.uk