YOUNG farmers in Cumbria have been asked to join the fight to keep land-based education in the county.

An appeal had gone put on the Cumbria Young Farmers Facebook page asking them to complete a survey aimed at helping build a case to keep Newton Rigg College, on the outskirts of Penrith, from closure next year.

A Cumbria Steering Group which includes Westmorland County Agricultural Society, National Farmers Union (NFU), Farmer Network have come together to look at establishing a strategy for land-based skills in the county.

The group has created an online survey with the aim of gathering the vital information required to build a case for retaining, expanding, and updating the Cumbrian college.

The purpose of the survey is to review how people have used the college in the past and how they would like to receive training, education, knowledge exchange learning opportunities, now and what thoughts they have that might be useful in the future.

The University of Cumbria will be gathering the information to build the case to the Further Education Commissioner that Newton Rigg,currently run by the York-based Askham Bryan, should be retained.

Newton Rigg has been in existence since the late 1894’s and delivered countless benefits for the county.

Young farmers were asked to fill in the survey in a bid help to secure the future of agricultural and land-based education in Cumbria, especially for the next generation.

The University is acting as the coordinating point for evidence gathering from NFU, CLA, The Farmer Network, Tenant Farmers Association, the National Sheep Association, sheep breed groups, Dairy and Beef groups, The Federation of Cumbria Commoners, Westmorland Agricultural Society and Cumberland Agricultural Society.

It is helping to assess the training needs of farmers and their businesses over the next 10 years.

Newton Rigg Campus in Penrith has been earmarked for closure in July 2021 after an independent review found the site was not financially viable.

The final decision came after a 45 day consultation process with Newton Rigg College staff and trade unions.

Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, Askham Bryan College, said: “We understand the strength of feeling for Newton Rigg. However, we have no other option given the demographic and recruitment challenges and financial losses that we have faced, which we have shared previously."