HUNDREDS of voices have shown their support for the next generation of farmers in Cumbria working hard to make a case for land-based education to remain in the county.

Praise was heaped upon young farmers from clubs all over the county who took to the roads last weekend in a tractor run to raise support to keep closure-hit Newton Rigg College in Penrith open.

MP for Penrith and the Border, Dr Neil Hudson welcomed the young farmers at the end of the Tractor Run, which saw 80 machines driven by volunteers from all young farmers clubs in the county.

Dr Hudson spoke to the young farmers about his work in trying to secure a future for the college, which is due to close next summer. He said afterwards:

"It was humbling and heartening to join with Cumbria Young Farmers' Tractor Run in support of Newton Rigg. Huge thanks to everyone who made this special occasion possible. This is the next generation of farmers. They have shown loudly and clearly what this vital Cumbrian College means both to them and our UK farming future. We will keep working hard to try to save Newton Rigg and the Government-led Strategic Review that I have triggered and is now evaluating management bids coming forward gives us the best chance of achieving that."

Adam Day, managing director of The Farmer Network, based at Newton Rigg College, has shown his support for the college. He posted his thanks to the young farmers on his Facebook page. "We will need these young people to grow food and maintain our landscapes for generations to come. The right training and support will be essential. As it stands the college will close July 2021, although many people are trying to find a solution.

The National Farmers Union urged farmers to help build a case for the future of land-based education in the county by filling in a brief survey created by Cumbria Land Based Skills Strategy Group convened by the University of Cumbria with the aim of gathering the vital information required to build a case for retaining, expanding, and updating the college.

Owners of the college, Askham Bryan College in York said there had been a high level of support expressed for Newton Rigg from various Cumbrian organisations and groups.The timing of the proposed closure for next July 2021 gives a window of opportunity for an alternative group or organisation to provide a potential solution.

They said the importance of the uplands farm at Low Beckside is recognised and the College would look at the viability of transferring it to an appropriate body or group, on the basis they continue to preserve it for educational and potential applied research relevance.

Newton Rigg was established in 1896.