Coronavirus and Brexit are throwing up big challenges for Herefordshire farmers.

But the answer is simple, says the county’s young farmers chairman, Ernie Richards – quality.

So he’s enthusiastic about anything that promotes the high quality produce that Herefordshire is known for.

Ernie, a hill sheep farmer, is optimistic by nature and sees some silver lining for the farming industry out of the Covid-19 crisis.

He said: “Consumer habits have changed because of coronavirus. Working from home has had a big influence.

“I think people have had more time to cook an evening meal. And when people could not get what they wanted in the supermarkets sometimes they were buying more at the local butcher’s or the farm shop.

“They have realised the quality of the food is excellent.”

Ernie says the British farming industry is producing high quality produce all year round, and that is vital for its future.

“We have to focus on that. Farming is going to go through change in the next few years after coronavirus and Brexit.

“Being optimistic is the best way forward. We have to promote what we do strongly and get the public buying British produce.

“That’s why I am a supporter of the Three Counties Farmer Awards – because they promote a positive image of local farming.

“It is so important people understand what farmers do to produce the food that goes on their table.

“We need to promote the quality of our food. The more knowledge about food the better.”

Along with a focus on quality, Ernie believes the other key issue for the farming future is diversity.

“Mixed farming is going to become an important part of farming incomes, especially when subsidies are reduced.

This is a traditional farming area and a very rural area. Mixed farms are very much a thing and there has been a growth in holiday lets as well.

“There is a flat-cap, stick and string around the waist image of farmers, but it’s not correct, farmers are forward thinking and diverse people, always looking at ways of improving things.”

But always focusing on the fact that top quality food is the key.

The 2020 Farming Awards take place in digital format – because of coronavirus - in November.

To nominate visit yourself or someone you know visit

Categories are: Sheep Farmer; Farm Conservation; Cattle Farmer; Family Run Farm; Pig Farmer; Young Farmer (under 26); Arable Farmer; Farming Contractor; Fruit/hop farmer.