Options for farmers to future proof and grow their businesses will be the focus of this year’s East of England Farming Conference, which takes place on 2 November 2017 at the East of England Showground.
Entitled ‘Grow or Go’, the conference organised by the East of England Agricultural Society, now in its third year, will present novel farming approaches and ideas to encourage resourcefulness in British farming.
Thomas Beazley, Chairman of the East of England Agricultural Society, says the conference aims to provide delegates with practical and thought-provoking ideas in three distinct sessions: science, people and politics; case studies of ‘farmers with flair’; and building the British brand.
He comments: “We are passionate about offering farmers in the East inspiration to drive their businesses forward in a sustainable way, ensuring our farming industry is fit and healthy in 2020 and beyond.”
Richard Whitlock, chairman of the conference organising committee, will chair the first session. Speakers will debate science, people and politics, post 2020, and include NFU deputy president, Minette Batters and policy director of the Soil Association, Lord Melchett.
Richard says: “On the political front, we are living through challenging and uncertain times, with increasing requirements for farmers to demonstrate environmental benefits alongside food production. Farmers will have to be at the top of their game across the board, there is no room for second best in any sector.”
Tom Martin, a mixed farmer from Haddon, Cambridgeshire who recently started his Village Farm business after leaving a city job, will chair session two, involving five ‘farmers with flair’.
The speakers include: Emily Norton, Farmers Weekly’s Mixed Farmer of the Year 2017 finalist; Alec Mercer of Packington Free Range; Jack Stilwell of ‘Get Jack Farming’, Matt Sharp of The Rising Sun Farm, and Tom Wright of Spring Farm Systems.
These entrepreneurs have turned the perception of farming on its head. The session will demonstrate how important it is to be resourceful and think ‘outside of the box’.
Emily Norton says: “Farmers need to think beyond subsidies, the status quo is over. We need to embrace change and realise the opportunities it presents, particularly in the way we finance our businesses. Securing external sources of funding and investment will be important if farmers are able to profit from innovation in the future.”
Building the British Brand is the focus for the third session, chaired by Tom Bradshaw, where delegates will hear from experts across the agricultural industry on how farmers can mitigate or remove barriers to growth.
Director of the Free Range Dairy Network, and session speaker, Neil Darwent thinks Brexit is a good place to start.
Neil says: “Brexit will present one of the most challenging times ever known in British farming. Farmers need to be prepared for the changing landscape and what it will bring. We must explore every opportunity to ensure farming thrives when we leave EU.
“I will be urging farmers to identify the opportunities that changing demand will bring and to promote a future farming industry that is founded on market requirements, rather than being production driven.”
Tickets to the East of England Farming Conference 2017 are available to purchase from the conference website www.eoefarmingconference.co.uk. Students and Society members can apply for discounted tickets by contacting the organisers via the website.
Conference sponsors include: Anglia Farmers, British Sugar, Brown and Co., Camgrain, HSBC, Land Family Business, Roythornes, and Syngenta.