Farmers flock to conference
The 2014 Northern Farming Conference attracted just under 300 farmers and land managers to Hexham Auction Mart.
Keynote speaker, environment secretary Liz Truss, said that she viewed farming as "a sunrise industry, with lots of opportunities.”
“The farming industry is at the heart of this area and we want to see more young people become involved" she said.
On the subject of CAP reform, she said: "The three crop rule is wrong. It is not up to people in Brussels to dictate what we should be growing in the UK. At present the process is too convoluted and we need to be on a level playing field with the rest of the world."
She said that she realised the need to cut red tape and government inspections "which only take up your [farmers] time.” She also stated that she wanted to encourage protected status for heritage products and that Defra were determined to try and eradicate bovine TB by 2018.
Other speakers in the morning session included Allan Wilkinson, HSBC Head of Agriculture, who asked the delegates if their "foot was on the gas or the brake."
“The main problem facing farmers is volatility,” he said. “This has become more prevalent in the past five years with weather being one of the main factors. On the demand side what has changed is not population, but affluence.”
Wilkinson was followed by East Sussex dairy farmer Joe Delves whose inspirational speech pointed out that attitude is everything. "Don't say 'I can't” he urged delegates, “but rather, how can I?”
He also said that life work balance was one of the most important factors in making any decision. "Opportunities come along every day, you just have to choose the right one," he said.
The morning session was closed by award winning poultry farmer Richard Tulip, who runs Lintz Hall Farm with his brother Stephen, at Burnopfield near Newcastle upon Tyne.
Discussing the secrets of his poultry farm’s phenomenal growth, he said: “We have immense enthusiasm for our business and this is transferred into everything we do."
“We treat our staff with respect, encourage and work alongside them every day. If someone in your business knows more about a subject than you do, let them get on with it.”
The afternoon session of the Northern Farming Conference 2014, began with a talk from Rob Aubrook, Natural England Regional Director for the North East.
Acknowledging that conservationism and farming has had a volatile relationship, he pointed out that things improved by working in partnership. "Environmentalism is not fluffy," he told delegates, "it's something that directly affects the quality of life, the food we produce and the food that we eat."
“The value of wildlife in the UK is £1.2bn. A healthy economy and a healthy environment go hand in hand. We may not have always got it right, but things have improved by listening to local farmers and built up trust between you and our advisors."
Yorkshire hill farmer John Henderson spoke about his experiences of share farming over the last 30 years. He said: “Share farming is undervalued and misunderstood but is the only system that allows for gradual change in an industry that is desperate for new entrants.”
He went on to say that good communication was key to a successful share farming agreement: “I have a level of communication with my two share farmers that you simply cannot achieve with a traditional landlord and tenant relationship. We are in it together and can speak utterly freely on important business issues.”
The day was rounded off by Richard Price of Lowther Park Farms, who spoke about the difficulties of farming in inclement weather conditions. He said: “A huge part of my role is managing the risk that comes with the climate in the North West. Farming is a lot tougher when you get as much rain as we do.”
He finished by speaking about the importance of leadership: “Farmers need to be focused about what they want from their business and must give clear direction to everyone in the team so that they know what is required of them.”
The Northern Farming Conference is a joint venture between the CLA, Strutt & Parker, Bond Dickinson, Armstrong Watson, Catchment Sensitive Farming, Gibson & Co Solicitors and Hexham and Northern Marts.
You can now download each of the presentations given at the Northern Farming Conference 2014 in PDF format using the links below. Please be aware that permission must be sought from the owners if any information contained within the presentations is to be used for other purposes.
- Presentation 1 - Allan Wilkinson
- Presentation 2 - Joe Delves
- Presentation 3 - The Rt. Hon. Liz Truss MP
- Presentation 4 - Tim Chamen
- Presentation 5 - Richard Tulip
- Presentation 6 - Geoff Whittaker
- Presentation 7 - John Henderson
- Presentation 8 - Richard Price
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