Exploring the links between farming and other rural enterprises: Could Brexit make or break the chain?

Exploring the links between farming and other rural enterprises: Could Brexit make or break the chain?

Hosted by researchers at Newcastle University.

A team of researchers from Newcastle University have undertaken research to investigate how potential post-Brexit structural adjustments in the farming industry will affect local and regional industries in the north of England, beyond farming. We are also interested in the multiplier effects of these potential structural changes. Using interviews, we spoke to enterprises based in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Cumbria who are linked to agriculture but are not primary producers themselves. We discussed with them the risks and the opportunities their businesses and communities face following the changes in farm support post-Brexit.

Preliminary findings indicate that there is a great deal of concern about the impact of changes on produce quality, the environment and the fabric of rural communities. However, we also note a high degree of ‘business pragmatism’ and a willingness to ‘roll with the punches’, as well as some optimism around opportunities for innovation, both within participants’ own businesses and within agriculture more generally.

This session involved a facilitated discussion. We spent 5-7 minutes introducing our research and findings, and then used the remainder of the session to engage participants with a range of activities. We aim to co-produce knowledge with session attendees, with the goal of identifying key challenges and opportunities facing (northern) rural regions post-Brexit and post-Covid, and discussing solutions to these, based on best practices and local strengths and weaknesses. A better understanding on how Brexit will affect farming and the wider rural community and how we, as a community, might respond to these changes in the north would allow for the identification of more viable solutions to support sustainable and vibrant communities.


Adrienne Attorp is a PhD Researcher in Sociology and Social Policy at Newcastle University (Teagasc Walsh Scolar). She is currently studying agriculture policy and land use on the island of Ireland. Prior to returning to academia, Adrienne spent 6 years working in the charity sector, first with urban farming charity ‘Growing People Project’ in Milton Keynes, then with horticultural social enterprise ‘Cultivate London’, in west London. She is broadly interested in agriculture policy, sustainable food systems and food sovereignty.

Katie Aitken-McDermott is a PhD Researcher at Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy. Her research focuses on why and how individuals and groups establish and manage rural social enterprises.

Dr Carmen Hubbard is a senior lecturer in rural economy at Newcastle University. Her major research interests are in the economics and policy analysis of EU rural areas. She has also extended her expertise to other countries such as Japan, Brazil, South Korea and Vietnam. Recently, she led a major national project on ‘Brexit and Agriculture’. In 2014, she was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Since 2015, she has been an appointed member of the (Farm) Animal Welfare Committee. She also sits on the North East Farming and Rural Advisory Network steering group.

You can read the session outcomes here.


Oct 02 2020


1:30 pm - 3:00 pm