AS well as growing and producing high quality, healthy food that we all eat and enjoy, British farmers are custodians of our beautiful countryside, leaders in animal welfare and champions of renewable energy.

What’s more, the UK food and farming industry makes a fundamental contribution to our economy, providing millions of jobs and supporting rural and urban communities up and down the country.

More than 80 per cent of the land area in the North West is designated as rural, with all sectors represented in the region – especially livestock and dairy thanks to our abundant supply of grassland.

The North West also has a significant horticultural sector accounting for nine per cent of England’s total.

North West agriculture has more than 22,000 farming and related businesses employing some 40,000 people. A thriving food and drink industry has grown up alongside our agriculture and horticulture industry and major global brands such as Kellogg’s and Heinz are based in the region.

Farmers also play a vital role in delivering the region’s landscape which is a major part of the North West’s tourism offer. Next time you are walking through the Lake District National Park, or drinking in the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, think about the role that farming plays in delivering our rural environment and preserving it for future generations in the North West of England.

In these uncertain times, it’s wonderful to see our society coming together and key workers playing a vital role in ensuring everyday life can continue. Alongside our extraordinary NHS and care workers, retail and postal staff, there’s a big sector ‘ploughing on’ – UK agriculture.

A letter from Robin Page, Chairman of the Countryside Restoration Trust to Farmer said he wanted to say thank you to British farmers.

“Covid-19 has demonstrated a huge reliance on the UK food and farming industry to keep supermarket shelves stocked and help with increasing demand to shop local.

“With many venturing into the great outdoors for their precious hour window of exercise per day, there’s never been a better time to witness the joy of nature in all its glory. The CRT’s ethos of ‘wildlife friendly farming’ perfectly mirrors the glorious synergy of nature and the all-important work our hero farmers are doing day in, day out, to the benefit of the British public.

“The CRT farmers are playing their part; from sheep and beef farmers Gareth and Madeline Boaz in the Golden Valley and jersey dairy farmers Bev and Mike Clear in Surrey, to arable farmer Tim Scott at our flagship Lark Rise Farm in Cambridge. As a charity, we feel it’s never been more important to appreciate the work of British farmers and ensure the next generation truly understands where their food comes from.

“When the pandemic ends, the CRT will launch its new education programme, MOSAIC – Farming & Wildlife, at Turnastone Court Farm in Herefordshire.

“MOSAIC will help children continue this journey to learn more about the farm to fork process and everything in between – we have some exciting times ahead and there’s no better time to start getting out and taking in local nature.”

Cumbria has many farm shops and help is being given in the shape of Fabulous Farm Shops – England’s comprehensive online farm shop directory – is giving something back to farm shops, farmers and their families by supporting farming charity R.A.B.I.

The Fabulous Farm Shop online directory contains more than 1,000 farm shop listings and the site is updated daily with the latest information, such as which farm shops are open, or offering deliveries during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It’s vital information in the current climate as many farm shops are offering specialised services such as click and collect or non-contact collections or even drive-throughs.

Now, the website is offering upgraded packages to farm shop customers, including email and farm shop website addresses. For £35, farm shops can have their listing enhanced for a whole year and, currently, this money will be donated to R.A.B.I.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution – R.A.B.I – is farming’s oldest and largest charity supporting farmers of all ages with financial grants, guidance and practical care. They have an active Cumbrian committee.