Specialist lender UK Agricultural Finance expands its product range

UK Agricultural Finance has secured important funding from one of the UK’s leading institutional investors, enabling it to increase its offering to farmers.

 The investment allows UKAF to build on the success in its bridge finance offering, to provide much-needed term funding for the rural community. The capital will enable UKAF to expand its loan book by £150m and is an important development as it continues to increase its financing offer.

 “We can now provide loans from three months to seven years, secured against agricultural land and property to help farmers diversify, acquire more land, build renewable energy projects, restructure, buy more livestock, help families with generational transfer and provide tenant farmers capital to purchase their farm,” says co-founder Robert Suss.

 “This additional capital means we can help farmers sustain, grow and improve their businesses. Securing it is testament to the strength of our team, risk management and business model.

 “We are thrilled that this funding enables us to continue grow our activities with the UK farming sector, making a difference by giving more customers the access to finance they need.”

Robert Suss, Co-founder

Robert Suss, Co-founder

The Dairy Show 2018 - Dairy Industry Dinner and Dairy Industry Award

On the eve of the UK’s Largest Dairy Show, the Bath & West Showground once again played host to the prestigious Dairy Industry Dinner, which included the presentation of the Dairy Industry Award.  Over 350 key members of the dairy industry attended the ever-popular event on Tuesday 2 October which was held in partnership with Barber’s, BV Dairy, Crediton Dairy, Coombe Farm Milk Pool, Lye Cross Farm, Pattemores Transport, Rodda’s, Wyke Farms, Yeo Valley; West Country Family Dairy Businesses working together.  While the reception was supported by long term partners, Burges Salmon.   The keynote speech was delivered by Nick Whelan, Chief Executive of Dale Farm, the largest UK owned dairy cooperative.

This year the Dairy Industry Award was presented to David Herdman.

David farms in a family partnership near St Neots in Cambridgeshire.  Despite this not being in the heart of the dairy industry country, he has a herd of extremely high yielding Holsteins (12,000 litres/head) now milked robotically. This geographic exposure stimulating the requirement and importance to him to work collaboratively. Initially a Dairy Crest supplier, the business has evolved and is now part of a Muller trading relationship.  In addition, they farm 2,000 areas of arable from which the grains are sold through collaboration as a CamGrain member.

David has always been an exemplar in collaboration and for the past 20 years has been involved in developing groups of farmers to work with their dairy processors.

Initially David formed the A1 group supplying Dairy Crest, Fenstanton.  In 2004 David was elected as a farmer director of Dairy Crest Direct (DCD), this organisation representing up to 1,700 dairy farmers at the time selling their milk to Dairy Crest, becoming chairman in 2007.   During his tenure as Chairman of DCD he helped develop many leading initiatives and in engaging closer working relationships with retailers – getting dairy farmers closer to retail customers being a key skill David has, underpinned throughout by elected accountability of all representatives.

In addition, DCD developed a separate company to develop a carbon foot-printing tool, the first developed by farmers, for farmers, to gain accreditation by the Carbon Trust.

In 2012, and the launch by Government Minister Jim Paice MP of the Dairy Fund collaboration initiative worth £5m, David as Chairman oversaw a successful DCD bid for part of this, and through close consultation, developed the very first DPO – Dairy Producer Organisation, as legitimately recognised by the EU and UK Govt – the very first in the UK.  He also led initiatives to establish formula milk pricing, and one of the first groups to express interest in dairy futures, and the part these would play in farmer contract relationships.

In 2015, the Dairy Crest dairies assets were sold to Muller Milk and Ingredients, David led the 650 farmers that transferred to Muller via a new company called Direct Milk DPO Ltd and so established a successful division of DCD. DCD continues to flourish with Dairy Crest at Davidstow, whilst David developed a brand new amalgamated farmer representational organisation with the Muller farmers.

Working with Muller farmers David established a new rep body for the 2,000 farms nationwide that supplied Muller, establishing the Muller Milk Group, (MMG) underpinned as always, by elected accountability throughout.  During 2017, David was elected the Chairman of this new body, MMG.

David as a dairy farmer has navigated through well over a decade as Chairman of elected and accountable dairy farmer collaboration representative bodies, DCD, Direct Milk and now MMG.  He has provided his quiet, professional, dependable and skillful leadership throughout, his expertise assisting 100s of dairy farmers and their supply chains across the UK.

(l-r) Richard Clothier Wyke Farms, David Herdman DIA winner 2018, The Earl and Countess Bathurst The Royal Bath & West Society Presidents

(l-r) Richard Clothier Wyke Farms, David Herdman DIA winner 2018, The Earl and Countess Bathurst The Royal Bath & West Society Presidents

The Glamping Show Review

The exhibitors at the Glamping Show last week welcomed the inclement weather with gusto as it meant they could really showcase how well their structures stood up to Britain’s variable climate and how warm and cosy their structures are even when the temperature drops.

Rex Dovey, of Universal Glamping Pods, said: “The variable weather we have had these last few days has suited us enormously.  The high winds and rain, especially, on the first day showed just how strong our structures are and we were also able to showcase our new innovative heating system, which warmed up many visitors throughout the Show.”

Much like the sector it represents, the Show is constantly evolving and welcomed thousands of visitors from all corners of the UK and overseas throughout the three days of the Show, who were greeted by more exhibitors than ever before.  As suppliers recognise the value of the Glamping Show visitors had the opportunity to compare and contrast not only a huge variety of glamping structures but also similar suppliers for services and accessories including bedding products, heating and sanitary suppliers, insurance and planning advice to name a few.

New to the Show this year, B&B Owner, Andrew, had this to say: “We are in the hospitality business and run a B&B but we are looking to develop this to a more self-catering offering so we came to the Glamping show to look at the different structures and work out what would suit us but also look at the other areas such as sanitation, marketing and the technical side of things with what’s involved and how to go about installing the structures.  The Show has ticked all the boxes for me.”

The knowledge bank also evolved this year as the education offered by the Show stepped up a gear with the introduction of a number of short intensive courses to provide visitors with a more in-depth knowledge of specific areas of running your own glamping site, which was in addition to the hugely popular comprehensive seminar programme and one to one ‘Meet the Experts’ meetings. 

Chris Pike of Hey Burt was one of the specialists available to speak to in ‘Meet the Experts’, who had this to say: “We were busy from the moment the doors opened on both Thursday and Friday.  I talked to a massive range of people from those who have barely even thought about the beginning of their potential glamping site to those who are well established business owners.  It was great to see such a diverse range of visitors attending the Show.”

Campsite owners, Simon & Lisa, have been coming to the Show for the last three years and said: “We are in the process of upgrading our campsite to a glamping site.  We came specifically to speak to a planning expert and Barry Davies of Davies & Co was extremely helpful in assisting us to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.  The Show is constantly evolving, and we find it really useful to come back each year to keep up with all the changes in structures, services and especially legislation to make sure we are offering our guests the best experience we can.”

Jess Holliday, of Yurts For Life, has seen a huge shift in the last three years in how knowledgeable visitors have become and had this to say: “What we have noticed is there has been an massive evolution in the glamping market in recent years and in the three years we have been exhibiting we have seen visitors in our first year who were just at the planning stages of their business and now those people are returning to the Show knowing exactly what they want and are more knowledgeable about the industry, which the Show has had a huge part in providing for them, giving them the education and knowledge to make an informed choice.  It has been a phenomenal Show!”

After four successful years of the Glamping Show the organisers wanted to give something back.  So, teaming up with Kerry Roy of Camp Kátur, they launched GlampAid, a new industry charity to help those made homeless by conflict and disaster, welcoming long-time supporter of the Glamping Show, TV presenter, author and upcycler, Max McMurdo, as its ambassador. 

Although the doors have closed on this year’s Show the organisers already have new and innovative ideas in the pipeline to enhance the Show in 2019.  Make the Glamping Show a date in your diary for 2019 and join us from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 September 2019.

2018 Glamping Show 4.jpg

International flavour at the Dairy Show

The UK’s largest dairy show is gearing up to receive visitors from near and far, with guests, trade stands and judges coming from all over the world.

The dairy industry is a vital part of agriculture in the UK, with world class farmers pioneering new technology, genetics and practices – something which draws in interest and trade from all over the world, says Alan Lyons, head of shows. “To grow as an industry it is vital that we share ideas and learn from one another, and seeing such a wide scope of international visitors attend the Dairy Show highlights both what other countries have to learn from us and what they can bring to the table.”

This year a contingent from India will be attending the Show. Gurinderjit Singh, who spent six months on a placement at Walk Farm, Witham Friary, working with 400 Montbeliards, is returning to the UK to visit the Show – along with a group of farmer friends - after successfully building his own herd in India.

His experience working at Walk Farm allowed him to create his own successful business and he now processes his own milk and has created an extensive home delivery service in the nearest town in the Punjab region.

Another group from Ireland will also be visiting the Show. The 18 dairy farmers are part of the co-operative, Aurivo and will be travelling around a series of dairy farms as part of their tour.

A further 11 visitors are coming from across the US and Canada as part of a longer trip to the UK to gain knowledge of the dairy industry. The contingent of dairy farmers and industry experts will also be visiting a number of dairy farms and other destinations before heading over to Ireland.

The Show doesn’t just draw in international farmers: Many trade stands will be showcasing their products from all over the world. New Zealand Trade Enterprise will be travelling the furthest, to bring a variety of Aitchison grassland drills to the Show. And both Heuven Livestock BV and Gallagher from the Netherlands are set to showcase an array of products, along with Pectofeed Ireland and VUXXX GmbH from Germany.

As well as attracting livestock entries from across the UK, the Show also has a history of esteemed judges attending from far and wide. This year, the Jersey Society’s National Show will see Alta Mae-Core from Kentucky, USA, preside over the judging of the Jersey competitions, bringing her own extensive expertise to the day.

Bringing together people together from so many different countries allows for better knowledge transfer and connections, says Mr Lyons. “It’s not only an honour to host such a diverse number of guests and traders, it’s also part of the multi-cultural and multi-national world we live in, something that farmers can sometimes be isolated from. So it’s great to be able to provide an opportunity to open our doors to different countries through the Show.”

  • The Dairy Show will be held on 3 October at the Royal Bath & West Showground. Schedules for show classes are available online, and advance saver tickets can be purchased from www.bathandwest.com.

  • The Dairy Show is registered with Dairy Pro and current members and those who join at the event will get their attendance registered on their personal development record and receive 2 Dairy Pro points.

New banking partnership to support British farmers

Farmers who are struggling to obtain funding for urgent or complicated projects can now secure finance through a new banking partnership.

UK Agricultural Finance and NatWest have joined forces in the first partnership of its kind, to offer responsible, secured loans to farmers who may not have immediate access to high street lending.

The agricultural lender - founded in 2015 and backed by leading financiers, family offices and private equity firms - has become the first agricultural specialist to join Capital Connections; NatWest’s panel of leading alternative lenders. Set up to offer complementary sources of capital to small and medium-sized businesses, Capital Connections signposts NatWest customers to innovative sources of finance outside of its traditional high street arm.

“Mainstream agricultural lenders are very good at offering conventional loans, but it can be more difficult for farmers to access funding for business development, diversification or restructuring,” explains Robert Suss, co-CEO of UK Agricultural Finance. “Often projects are urgent or complex, requiring a bespoke solution rather than an off-the-peg package.

“As agricultural specialists, we understand farmers’ needs, and can create a loan to suit their circumstance, whether that’s providing for delayed repayments or higher loan-to-value ratios. We also believe passionately in responsible lending, helping to protect our borrowers, investors and the wider rural community.”

Ian Burrow, NatWest’s head of agriculture and energy, agrees that traditional funding routes are not always the best option for businesses in the rural community. “Now UK Agricultural Finance will be able to provide loans to help farmers diversify or grow, ease generational transfer, or purchase tenanted farms, for example. They are an ideal partner for us and complement the impressive and innovative range of alternative lenders already on the Capital Connections panel.”

Lord Davies of Abersoch, chairman of UK Agricultural Finance, says the new partnership will be transformational in supporting the farming community with access to flexible and reliable finance. “The pressure on British farmers to be globally competitive, innovative and eco-friendly is greater than ever. This partnership will enable us to provide more rural businesses and farmers with vital access to capital to enable them to diversify, sustain, grow and improve their businesses.”

Loans of between £100,000 to £10 million are secured against agricultural land and property across England, Scotland and Wales. Terms are available from one to seven years with a maximum loan-to-value of 65%.

Trust Your Gut Instinct

It’s all about trusting yourself”, advises Cecily Mills, the founder of dairy-free ice cream brand, Coconuts Naturally. The former M&S store manager turned ice-cream entrepreneur received investment offers from two Dragons - Jenny Campbell and Tej Lalvani – in Sunday’s episode of BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den series, so she knows a bit about backing your own capabilities and trusting your gut instinct. Cecily chose to accept Jenny Campbell’s offer, while also winning universal praise for her delicious ice cream.

Cornwall-based Cecily launched Coconuts Naturally in 2015, due to her frustration over the lack of tasty and natural ice creams in the market. Having turned vegan to increase her energy levels, Cecily found that she really missed ice cream. So she decided to make her own - one that had all the health credentials she desired, including organic and all-natural ingredients, but with no compromise on taste and texture.

Declining a Dragon
Fast-forward three years and Cecily has exchanged her career in retail management for the life of an entrepreneur. Her ice cream has won several awards and is sold in Ocado and shops across the UK, as well as being exported to Dubai. And her latest milestone is Sunday’s Dragons’ Den appearance. “Featuring on the show was an amazing experience”, says Cecily - “Of course it was tough, but I’m extremely grateful for all I learnt. And it was a major confidence boost to see the Dragons’ belief in me and my product.”

 Shortly after filming, some key developments in Cecily’s business meant that ultimately she wasn’t able to take up Jenny’s offer. “Turning down the mentorship and exposure to a phenomenal business woman like Jenny Campbell was a very difficult decision. But again, I followed my instinct and it was the right thing to do for the company.”

Critical Relationships
Despite having to decline input from a Dragon, Cecily still stresses how important mentors are for a start-up - “I’m fortunate to have other people I can turn to for advice.”  But overcoming daily challenges to get a business going can still be a lonely business. “Times can be tough, especially in the beginning. In April 2015 I received my first big order with no premises, a need to develop a fourth ice cream flavour - and a four-month-old baby. Then the recipes all went wrong when I put them through the new pasteurising machine!”  

Forward Thinking
Coconuts Naturally is now expanding its domestic and export business. It’s about to ship its first order to Hong Kong, and has also struck a deal with a major UK retailer. Meanwhile two new flavours are in development. “I’m constantly facing new challenges, but I love being kept on my toes. It’s what drives the business forward. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” says Cecily.

Cecily Headshot.jpg

Use BPS time window for change, says CAAV

The new Agriculture Bill has fired a starting gun for England’s farmers to manage post-Brexit change, according to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.

Farmers have been awaiting details on what post-Brexit policy and payments will look like – and now they know, they should act, says Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV. “We have been given a clear timeframe for the complete removal of BPS for English farmers. BPS is to be phased out from 2021 to 2027 and then it will be gone. That gives a time window in which farmers and their advisers should review their businesses, consider how best to handle the likely erosion of margins, and deliver the necessary changes.”

Based on his own calculations, Mr Moody expects BPS to be cut by 5% in 2021, with those receiving larger payments seeing cuts of up to 25%, with further phasing out thereafter (see table). “This will release money for new land management schemes – although environmental payments will not replace that loss in margins.”

Farmers therefore need to plan ahead, whether to control costs or change enterprise, embrace innovation and new technology, make new investments, win planning permissions, manage succession, exploit assets, add value or improve marketing.

“Leaving it too late will see the business on the receiving end of change, not managing it,” explains Mr Moody. “The task is to find how best the business and the family can achieve and retain a financial margin in a more commercial and challenging world.”

Some of the money removed from BPS will go towards grants to help farmers become more efficient and productive, but there will be a limited time window in which they can be claimed. Defra has also confirmed that payments will no longer be linked to active farming – enabling retirement and freeing up land for change.

“While we inevitably await much detail, the Government has now clearly stated the direction of travel and a timetable for the progressive loss of BPS,” says Mr Moody. “With that knowledge, farmers now need to drive change in their businesses, with the support of professional advisers over a sensible time frame. After a period of great uncertainty, they can now lay solid and effective foundations for the future profitability of farming and rural land use, replacing income support with improved commercial viability.”

Table – Likely changes in BPS.jpg

New Commercial Enterprise Manager to Unlock Bath & West Showground’s Potential

The Royal Bath & West of England Society is delighted to announce the appointment of Debbie Howarth as Commercial Enterprise Manager.

Debbie began her tenure in this newly created role on Monday 3 September with a remit to enhance the commercial potential of the Bath & West Showground and cement its position as the premier events venue in the West of England.

Bringing a wealth of experience of the charity, communications and events management sectors, Debbie arrives at a hugely exciting time for the Bath & West with the recently opened Rural Enterprise Centre now on stream and delivering real results for local businesses, while the £1.2m redevelopment of the Bar & Restaurant building will transform the showground’s event space offering when it opens in May 2019.

Chief Executive, Rupert Cox hailed Debbie’s arrival as a real boon for the Society;

“We are delighted to welcome Debbie to the Bath & West team as our first Commercial Enterprise Manager. She comes to us with an extensive CV that covers agricultural shows, equine events, charity fundraising and most significant to us, experience in organising large events. This will help us develop a new way of managing events on the showground, not least in helping us drive business to the new Wessex Pavilion that will open in May 2019”

“I am delighted to join the team at The Royal Bath & West Showground, the home of my favourite agricultural show!” Debbie enthused “As well as ensuring the continued success of our valued and established events calendar, we are planning some exciting new ventures and events for the showground in the coming months and years, so ‘watch this space’!”

Debbie Howarth and Rupert Cox at the B&W Society Office.jpg

Prepare for lower farm incomes, warns Old Mill

Farm incomes could face a sharp drop this autumn due to the summer drought, so it’s important for farmers to plan ahead to minimise the financial and physical impact.
There is plenty that producers can do to prepare, according to rural accountant Old Mill, from raising an overdraft to pay for forage to reducing tax payments on account. “It is a very frustrating and demoralising time for both livestock and arable producers,” says Mike Butler, chairman of the board at Old Mill.
“The drought means arable yields will be down, vegetable producers are looking at significant crop shortages, and livestock producers do not have enough forage to see them through the winter. This will have a dramatic impact on cash flow and profits.”
Higher commodity prices will go some way to alleviating this pressure, but the impact will vary from farm to farm. “Try to think about the implications of what’s going on, and have a serious conversation about what might be the right thing to do,” advises Mr Butler. “Have talks with your bank and accountant to see what the best solution is.”
Some farmers are already looking at culling up to half their herds to reduce forage requirements over the winter, while others may need to raise their overdraft to cover increased feed costs, he explains. “If selling stock, that will of course reduce your output, and may crystallise some profits. But cull cow and store values are already suffering, so you need to take that into account.”
If looking at alternative feeds, it’s important to consider the likely impact on productivity – but there may also be an upside. “When commodities are in short supply there is likely to be a dramatic rise in prices – if that does happen, make sure you’re in a position to take advantage of it.”
However, in the immediate future, it’s important to prepare for reduced incomes. “Are you getting the right tax credits? Could you reduce tax payments on account? Although July payments will already have been made, if you think income and therefore tax bills will be down you can choose to reduce your payments on account at any time.”
Cash flow planning will help to identify any pinch points, so you can act early to avoid them, adds Mr Butler. “The important thing is to understand the implications as they develop, and be proactive, rather than putting your head in the sand.”
For more information contact Mike Butler at Old Mill on 01749 335029.


2018 Pig & Poultry Fair: The best event yet

Feedback from a survey of visitors and exhibitors at the 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair reveals that they considered it the best event yet.

Held in May at Stoneleigh Park, the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s event attracted over 370 exhibitors and 10,131 visitors, who attended to see what was new, gather advice and hear from the experts.

“The professional and business nature of the pig and poultry sectors was clearly apparent at the Fair,” says event organiser Alice Bell. “Our survey shows that producers found it an extremely valuable and worthwhile day away from the farm.” In total, 98% of visitors found what they were looking for at the Fair, with four out of five visitors planning to make changes to their business as a result of their visit.

Taking place every two years, the Fair is a great chance for producers to see what is new, with 69% of visitors saying they attend the Fair to see new products, while 68% planned to make a purchase as a result of their visit.

Exhibitors had raised the bar too for 2018, with a wide range of inviting and interesting stands offering the very latest innovations, advice and solutions. “The atmosphere at this year’s Fair was buoyant and business like,” says Ms Bell. “There were so many informed conversations going on, really cementing it as the place to do business.”

This is born out in the research, with 93% of producers rating their day at the Fair as valuable for their business, while 100% of exhibitors said they met most or all of their objectives of exhibiting at the Fair.

“The RASE would like to thank all the visitors and exhibitors who helped make the 2018 Fair such a success,” added Ms Bell. “We are already working on ideas and improvements to ensure the 2020 event, taking place Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th May, continues to deliver for the industry.”

Key summary statistics from the 2018 Fair research:

 Visitor survey findings:
(From 590 responses to a post event survey of Fair visitors):

  • 68% of visitors plan to make a purchase as a result of their visit to the Fair.
  • 80% of visitors plan to make changes to their business as a result of their visit to the Fair.
  • 98% of visitors found what they were looking for at the Fair
  • 93% of visitors rated the Fair as valuable for their business
  • 97% of visitors rated their visit to the Fair as good or excellent
  • 96% of visitors to the 2018 Fair plan to attend the 2020 Fair

Exhibitor survey findings
(From 135 responses to a post event survey of exhibitors):

  • 87% rated the Fair as very important or important for generating future orders for their company
  • 91% rated the Fair as very important or important for engaging with existing customers
  • 72% rated the Fair as an excellent or good return on investment
  • 100% of exhibitors met all or most of their objectives of exhibiting at the Fair
  • 99% saw the right visitors at the 2018 Fair
  • 95% of exhibitors found the organisation of the Fair excellent or good
  • 93% of exhibitors rated the 2018 Fair as excellent or good
  • 94% of exhibitors plan to exhibit at the 2020 Fair

Only RHS Garden Flower Show in the South West returns bigger and better

For three days, 17 – 19 August, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington, Devon will host its second Garden Flower Show, sponsored by Atkins Ferrie Wealth Management. Following visitor feedback, this year the Rosemoor team have worked hard to bring you an even bigger and better show featuring increased flower power. Key changes include a new floral display trail, The British Flower Bus, flower arranging demonstrations, more stalls, more specialist talks and all within 65 acres of stunning grounds.

Rosemoor is located in a sheltered valley in Devon and unlike traditional temporary flower shows, it has permanent show and model gardens with amazing planting displays like its iconic Hot Garden and Long Borders, water features, and wonderful Fruit and Vegetable Gardens to provide inspiration for everyone no matter how large or small their garden is.

 Brand New for 2018

  •  Floral Display Trail. Some of North Devon’s finest flower clubs have designed flower displays in five of the garden shelters that all have a ‘Tales of Beatrix Potter’ theme.
  • Jonathan Moseley’s British Flower Bus will be at the show promoting British Flowers.
  • Flower Arranging Demonstrations. The five flower clubs as well as Jonathan Moseley will be giving up to four Flower Arranging Demonstrations each day of the show.
  • Food and drink to tempt you including a new banquet style food hall.
credited: RHS Garden Rosemoor

credited: RHS Garden Rosemoor

Other Show Highlights

  • Increased number of nurseries and trade stands.
  • More talks from specialist nurseries as well as a ‘Question Time’ with Rosemoor’s garden team.
  • The Flower Show Breakfast, hosted by the Garden Curator and his team of gardeners. This very popular event is open to anyone, includes a delicious hot breakfast hosted by the Rosemoor Garden Team, gives guaranteed on-site parking, and exclusive early access to the show on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 August. Breakfast tickets need to be booked online in advance.
  • ·A number of other stands including RHS Advisory with Plant Finder, Devon Plant Heritage, Bicton College, The Animal & Plant Health agency and WFGA (providing information on working and retraining as a gardener) will also be at this year’s show.
  • Why not relax by the lake whilst listening to delightful music and sipping on a Pimms’ or Rosemoor’s very own Gin. There will be acoustic minstrels ambling through the showground as well.
  • The Rosemoor Plant Centre & Gift Shop will also be fully stocked with wonderful plants, gifts, toys, gardening tools and accessories or mementos of your visit.
  • Family friendly activities such as circus skills in one of the children’s play areas or you can follow the Jurassic Discovery Garden Trail… which may have a few (large) surprises along the way!
  • Free park and ride shuttle from two locations in Great Torrington: Torrington Rugby Club, EX38 7BT and South Street Car Park, EX38 8AE.

Rosemoor’s second Garden Flower Show sure promises to be a grand day out for everyone.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS Members. Please visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/RHS-Garden-Rosemoor-Flower-Show or call 01805 626810 for more details.

Forget the neighbour’s dogs and cats - some of the world’s most dangerous wild animals are living at private addresses in Cornwall

From deadly snakes and crocodiles, to lions, leopards, bears and even an elephant -  Born Free reveals that nearly 5,000 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept right here in Britain

A survey conducted by the Born Free Foundation has revealed that 4,798 dangerous wild animals are being privately kept in Great Britain – 60 of which are living in Cornwall. Now the international wildlife charity is petitioning the UK Government to immediately review the law, and put a stop to some of the world’s most remarkable but often deadly creatures being in kept in unsuitable environments.

Whilst an estimated 11 million people own a pet in the UK, Born Free’s research asked every local council across England, Scotland and Wales which dangerous wild animals are currently licenced to be kept in private hands. Cornwall Council revealed that among the 60 dangerous wild animals that reside in the area, there are at least:

5 ostriches
14 camels
31 cats including 6 Clouded Leopards, 4 Pumas, 3 Lynxes and 1 Ocelot
3 Malaysian Otters
4 primates among them Ring-tailed Lemurs and Black and White Ruffled Lemurs
3 Common European Vipers
Shockingly, the entire survey revealed that a total of 218 private addresses are hosting dangerous wild animals across Britain. These include:

At least 250 wild cats, such as servals and lynx and including 50 big cats - lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and cheetahs
Over 100 venomous lizards, such as Mexican beaded lizards and Gila monsters
At least 240 primates, particularly ring tailed lemurs and capuchins
Over 85 crocodilians, mostly caimans
At least 650 venomous snakes, including puff adders, black mambas and diamondback rattlesnakes
In Wales, there is an elephant licensed to be privately kept, and in England a giraffe, as well as 14 wolves, 3 bears, 13 leopards, 3 cheetahs, 9 lions and 9 tigers.  Other species being kept as pets or in private collections in the UK included zebras, camels, fossas, antelope, and otters.

Currently, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, anyone in Britain can keep a dangerous wild animal as long as they obtain a licence from their local authority. The licence application merely requires them to demonstrate that their animals are properly contained and not at risk of escape.

Born Free is calling for a review of the legislation covering the keeping of wild animals as pets, including the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and calling for more restrictions on the ownership of dangerous wild animals. This includes the need for consideration of large constrictor snakes, which do not currently require a licence to be kept. Moreover, it is thought that many more wild animals are being kept unlicensed and illegally across the country.

Confining wild animals in domestic settings is not only cruel says Born Free, but can also pose a significant risk to human life.

Just last year a man in Hampshire was killed by his 8ft African rock python, Tiny. In a separate incident, Police found an illegally-kept 4ft caiman crocodile and 16 snakes at a property in Essex, nine of which were classed as dangerous. They included cobras and copperhead vipers. Seven other snakes were found dead in the house as a result of the poor conditions in which they had been kept.

Whilst the survey includes those establishments and companies that require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence to rescue animals, for animals such as wild boar and ostriches on farms, and those who use animals for TV and film, it is still understood that a large proportion of the dangerous wild animals are being kept as personal pets.

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare and Captivity for Born Free, said:

“The keeping of wild animals as pets is a growing concern. The widespread use of the internet has made it easier than ever to ‘order’ or purchase a wild animal without clarification as to where it has come from or how it should be cared for. Wild animals are particularly vulnerable to welfare problems because of their complex social, physical and behavioural needs. They require specific housing conditions, dietary requirements, and furthermore, the safety risk these animals pose to their owners and the wider public should not be ignored.”      

To find out what dangerous animals are living in other counties across the UK you can use Born Free’s interactive map on their website - www.bornfree.org.uk/dwamap

To sign Born Free’s petition for government to review the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 please visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/221050




While Country Show and Festival Organisers are very used to battling against wet and muddy weather conditions, this year it’s a much brighter picture. The weather forecast for this weekend’s Yeovil Show looks settled, warm and dry, though slightly cooler than in recent days with some possible short, sharp showers predicted for the Thursday before the show starts.  

The dry conditions and hot sunshine bring with them issues, and the organisers of the Yeovil Show would ask all those attending to heed the following advice.


There is plenty of drinking water on the showground and there will be several opportunities to buy drinks at the show.  Keep well hydrated at all times.  

The ground is dry.  Please dispose of cigarettes carefully.

This year, disposable barbecues will not be permitted on site.  However, for competitors staying on site, there will be plenty of eating options open on the Friday before the show as well as over Show weekend.

Use sun tan lotion with 5-star protection (the sun protection factor is less important).
Wear hats that cover the head as well as the back of neck.

There will be plenty of water for dogs dotted around the showground which will be replenished regularly. However, you may wish to bring along portable bowls and extra water for your dogs.

The Dog Show area at the bottom of the showground will offer plenty of shade for competing dogs.



The Show is also taking a number of steps to ensure that the showground is safe for equine competitors, livestock and staff.

The Showground is a wide, open space and is naturally very breezy.  The marquees will not have sides to them, allowing air to circulate freely through the livestock pens.

Extra supplies of water will be available across the showground for livestock.

Equine Events

The equine rings, warm ups and the Main Ring will be aerated.

There will be sand put down at the take off and landings of all jumps.

Stewards will be provided with free suncream, shaded areas to stand as well as free water bottles.
To find out everything you need to know about Yeovil Show 2018, including how to get there and the hundreds of things to see and do, visit the website at www.yeovilshow.org
Have a great show!

Let land set for major Brexit shake-up, says CAAV

The amount of land let in England and Wales remained static in 2017, but is set for a major shake-up after Brexit, according to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
Its 41st annual survey of let land showed that the amount of land changing hands remained at historic low levels of 951 units in the year to October 2017, with a small net increase of 2,478 acres to a total of 73,199 acres (excluding tenancies coming up for regular renewal). “This compares with an average annual gain of 35,000 acres between 1996 and 2003 and annual losses before tenancy reform of 60,000‐90,000 acres,” explains Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.

Jeremy Moody, secretary and adviser to the CAAV.

“In reality, the trend continues of a virtual standstill since 2003, when the first indications of CAP reform were becoming apparent, and particularly since 2006 once entitlements to the Single Payment Scheme had been allocated.”
The average length of Farm Business Tenancy declined marginally, year-on-year, from 4.48 years to 3.97 years – although that remains above the 10-year average of three years and nine months. “If lettings for one year or less are excluded, the average term increases to just under five years, with the average length of FBTs let for more than five years being 10.7 years,” says Mr Moody.
Farms let with a house and buildings are typically let for eight to 12 years, while those with buildings alone average around five years. “The length of tenancy also rises with the size of the letting so that those of less than 25 acres averaged 2.8 years against eight years for those over 200 acres.”
The survey – which was unveiled at the CAAV AGM in Edinburgh on 29 June - revealed that, where there is a change of occupier, 15-30% of lettings are typically to new entrants. “It is worth noting that the more letting opportunities there are, the more there are for both new entrants and progressing farmers to take,” says Mr Moody. “Flexibility over the length of the tenancy can only encourage that.”
Although letting activity has stagnated since the implementation of area-based payments, the let sector in England remains over 35% of the agricultural land area – and changes to support payments after Brexit will likely free up considerably more land for tenanted use, he predicts.
“Restructuring has commonly meant existing businesses getting larger, but that is not inevitable for the future. The removal of farm support is likely to focus attention on margin more than cash flow, with businesses spreading their sources of income or specialising more to boost profitability,” he explains.
“Land occupation – as opposed to land ownership – will change as profit-driven, well-educated farmers make the most of their assets with innovation and technology, driving improved farmgate margins and freeing up other land for alternative enterprises.”
Post‐Brexit policies, including environmental land management schemes, should be designed to enable and accommodate these changes in farmland occupation, insists Mr Moody. “Positive measures to ensure as large a market in farmland occupation as possible is an important part of managing change to make post‐Brexit agriculture a success.”
For more information visit www.caav.org.uk.

Cumbrian Farmer Giles Mounsey-Heysham Wins Prestigious National Award for Farming and Conservation

A Cumbrian Farmer has been recognised by the farming and conservation industry for his outstanding efforts to promote good habitat and environmental management on his farm. Giles Mounsey-Heysham was awarded the highly-coveted ‘Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group National Silver Lapwing Award’, which is now in its 41st year. The award, generously sponsored by Waitrose for the 10th year, recognises farmers who go the extra mile to protect and enhance the countryside in which they farm. Giles was awarded from a national shortlist of seven farms, each selected for demonstrating outstanding commitment to good environmental practices, alongside running successful farm businesses.

The 2018 FWAG Silver Lapwing Award was presented to Giles Mounsey-Heysham on Thursday 21st June 2018 by Charles Beaumont, Silver Lapwing Head Judge, Martin Hole, Silver Lapwing Judge, and Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager for Waitrose. This year the award ceremony was jointly hosted by Suffolk FWAG and the 2017 Silver Lapwing winner Edward Flatt, at Edward’s farm in Suffolk.

Many attendees from all sectors of the British farming and agriculture industry attended the award presentation and lunch. The presentation was followed by a tour of Eastwood Farm, which highlighted some of the reasons why Edward won the Silver Lapwing in 2017. 

Presentation Speakers

Chris Butler – Chairman of the FWAG Association

Charles Beaumont – Silver Lapwing Head Judge

Martin Hole – Silver Lapwing Judge

Gary Rumbold – FWAG SouthWest General Manager

Duncan Sinclair -  Waitrose Agriculture Manager


Farm Walk

After Lunch and the presentation of the 2018 Silver Lapwing Award, a walking tour took guests on a circular route around a portion of Eastwood Farm. The walk showcased some of the features in place and many plant species Edward Flatt has on his farm, highlighting why Edward was awarded the Silver Lapwing Award in 2017.

The farm walk was led by Tim Schofield, FWAG Suffolk Farm Conservation Adviser, who has worked closely with Edward Flatt at Eastwood Farm, and Andrew Cooper, Managing Director at Walnes Seeds.

Silver Lapwing Award Sponsorship

The Silver Lapwing Award was generously sponsored by our main sponsor, Waitrose for the 10th year, as well as Essex and Suffolk Water.



Giles Mounsey-Heysham of Castletown Estate Farms on winning the Silver Lapwing award:

‘I am very honoured to be presented with the Silver Lapwing Award, against such stiff competition. It is a testament to my team at Castletown Estate and this will motivate us to continue our conservation work on the farm. We will be proud to hold the Lapwing for the next year and feel privileged to be part of this award’.


Charles Beaumont, Silver Lapwing Head Judge:

“The competition was very tough this year, however, our winner Castletown Farm is an exceptional example of a Lapwing Award winner. With the challenges of grazing 2500 acres of salt marsh, they have transformed the farm into a wildlife haven as well as a remarkable business. Giles Mounsey-Heysham and his team work tirelessly, their drive is inspirational - a worthy winner”


Duncan Sinclair, Agriculture Manager for Waitrose (the main sponsor of the event):

“This is the 10th year Waitrose has been the principle sponsor of the FWAG Silver Lapwing Awards because they represent the pinnacle when it comes to embracing and nurturing the farmland environment. It is always inspirational to see the work undertaken by the finalists, all of whom are winners in their own right”


Chris Butler, Chairman of the FWAG Association:

“It is truly vital for organisations, such as FWAG, to continue to promote the great work that many farmers do to protect our environment – the Silver Lapwing Awards are a celebration of this. Giles Mounsey-Heysham is an exemplar of how to farm with conservation and business in mind and he has been justly recognised by the judges for all of his hard work. Very pleased we have another worthy winner for the 41st Silver Lapwing Awards”.


"The future is brighter for heavy horses, thanks to the  so-called 'Prince Charles effect'", says Nigel Murfitt, Head Judge of the Heavy Horse competition at this year’s Yeovil Show, which takes place on Saturday 14th and Sunday the 15th of July 2018.

"Despite having played such a crucial role in our farming history, our four breeds of heavy horse are now  an endangered species and to have a future they must have a purpose as they’re too expensive to keep purely as ornaments." he says.

"But with the recent news about Prince Charles opting to use draught horses in place of machinery in some of the royal parks and estates, hopefully this will encourage more landowners to follow suit.  These breeds of horse are particularly good for logging as they can often go where the tractor can’t, due to being so sure-footed."

Heavy horses are widely used to do grass cutting on parkland and have recently been drafted in to Hampton Court. And despite their size, they are also suitable for riding. Despite being a draught breed, with careful training and schooling they make excellent riding animals. There has been a growing trend for riding heavy horses in recent years, and there’s now a Heavy Horse Championship at the Horse of the Year Show.

Nigel, who grew up surrounded by heavy horses, is a highly experienced judge and has selected ‘Best in Show’ at a number of competitions all over the country, including the Royal Show.

It's not just those on four legs that Nigel's famous for judging though - he's is also well known to Saturday night TV viewers as one of the favourites of ‘The 100’ judging panel from the BBC TV entertainment series, All Together Now.

He's delighted that the entries to the Heavy Horse Competition at the Yeovil Show, sponsored by A & J Wakely & Son, are up by 15% to 44 this year and says,. “If you love heavy horses and want to find out more about them, Yeovil Show is definitely the place to be.”

Here are five points Nigel will be looking out for in a horse when judging the Heavy Horse Classes

1) Great movement
2) Good breeding standards
3) Be well turned out
4) Good mannered behaviour
5) The WOW factor
Further information about all the classes at Yeovil Show, as well as how to buy tickets, visit www.yeovilshow.org

The Prince of Wales’s lifelong contribution to rural life celebrated in Countryside Parade

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the Prince’s Countryside Parade, held at the Royal Cornwall Show (7th June) .

The Parade was comprised of 58 of HRH’s rural patronages, made up of 450 volunteers (and 40 animals), split in to six sections representing all parts of rural life, from waterways, to livestock, to food and farming. The Parade was held to a soundtrack of the Band of the Royal Marines and the Cornish male voice choirs.

The Parade culminated in Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall being presented with an oak tree and a two month old Boreray lamb named Bryher, led in the Parade and bred in Cornwall by local farmer Jowan Bobin. At 15, Jowan is the youngest member of the Cornwall Rare Breeds Survival Trust Support Group committee.

The Boreray sheep, also known as the Boreray Blackface or Hebridean Blackface, is the smallest and rarest of all the UK’s native sheep breeds. Though still the most endangered, since HRH became the Patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in 1978 the Boreray has changed from being a category one critical breed, to being a category three Vulnerable breed.

Following the Parade, Their Royal Highnesses attended an afternoon tea to meet with many of the volunteers, supporters, and parade participants.

His Royal Highness also thanked the generous sponsors of the afternoon including Jaguar Land Rover, Rodda’s, Ginsters, Dairy Crest, South West Water, and the Eden Project, and Rodda’s who sponsored the afternoon tea.

A day in a reclamation yard to help Gurkha veterans?

A Somerset reclamation yard may not be the first place which springs to mind for Nepalese curry and music, but that’s changing thanks to an unusual fundraising event taking place this summer to support The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

People can support Gurkha veterans and widows in Nepal by spending Saturday 14 July 2018 rummaging for treasure at Wells Reclamation Yard and find out more about the brave Gurkhas who’ve fought for Britain for more than 200 years.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust (Western Branch) are hosting the Gurkha Bhela (Gathering) to raise much needed funds for the charity’s vital work in Nepal.

Participants will get the chance to watch performances from an acclaimed Gurkha Piper, meet and chat to Gurkha soldiers and hear a talk about Gurkhas from Brigadier Bruce Jackman OBE MC, the third generation of his family to have served with Gurkhas.

As part of the day, guests will also receive an exceptional al fresco 3-course traditional Gurkha Curry Lunch cooked by Nigel Gifford OBE, ex-Army Catering Corps and a member of the successful Army Everest Expedition of 1976.

Commenting on the day, Brigadier Jackman said; “I’ve loved hosting fundraising events in and around the South West for many years now and this opportunity just seemed too good to miss – Wells Reclamation really is a magical place with tanks, missiles, antiques and everything in between to explore, so it’s a great setting for a family day out.

“The Gurkha story is a brilliant one to tell. These men really are the bravest of the brave and it’s an honour to support them in this way”

In addition to the organised activities, participants will be able to explore the yard and in their own time and have a good look around at the things it sells which range from old military and railways items to fireplaces and a category is refers to simply as ‘weird’.

Tickets for the day cost £20 and children under 10 get in free. You can buy your tickets in advance from www.gwt.org.uk/events-and-challenges/ or purchase on the day, which kicks off from 10am.


Five week-long Rose Festival to take place at RHS Garden Rosemoor

From 16 June to 22July, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington, Devon will host a five-week-long Rose Festival: a breath-taking showcase of colours and scents set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful RHS Gardens, bordered by acres of stunning woodlands. Swathes of scented blooms, floral workshops and unusual cultivars on sale make this a must-see for Devon visitors this summer. 


Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, RHS Garden Rosemoor is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together over 2000 roses across more than 200 different varieties and a wealth of hues and perfumes. From cottage garden climbers, to bright and beautiful container varieties, there will be a rose to inspire and suit all gardens.


Top highlights from the festival, include guided tours, expert advice from RHS horticulturists, a floral themed craft market, a rose trail, and much, much more.

Festival Events and Highlights:


·       Rose Weekend, extended to a three-day event from on 22 to 24 June featuring a floral-themed craft and food market with over 40 stalls in the stunning new Garden Room events building.

·       Brand New for 2018 and to celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War and in memory of those who lost their lives, Rosemoor has planted a group of Rosa Pax. Latin for ‘peace’, Rosa ‘Pax’ is a hybrid musk rose and was developed by the rose breeder, Joseph Pemberton and launched in 1918 to commemorate the end of WW1.


The Reverend Joseph Hardwick Pemberton grew up in the village of Havering-atte-Bower (now within the London Borough of Havering). Roses were a passion throughout his life, but it wasn’t until his retirement from the clergy that he began rose breeding. He created a new type of shrub rose which he called ’hybrid musks’. These are highly scented, with large clusters of flowers which bloom for months. Pemberton’s roses are still highly sought after today.


·       Armed Forces Day, 30 June                                                                                 


A 100 red ceramic poppies, interpreted and designed by popular local artist Renée Kilburn will be on display to start our commemorations of the centenary of the end of the First World War. Standing tall amongst the poppies is a wonderful sculpture of an ‘Unknown Soldier’ affectionately known as George N. The life-size soldier is crafted by another popular Rosemoor and Devon based artist, George Hider.

Armed forces personnel have free admission to Rosemoor today – simply bring ID.

The display will stay up until 11 November when we welcome all serving and retired armed forces personnel plus a family guest in for free (simply bring proof to the front entrance). Then the poppies and George will continue to be displayed as part of our annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition. The red poppies are available to purchase with a £3.50 donation on every poppy sold going to the Royal British Legion.

·       Rosemoor’s Garden Kitchen will be celebrating roses throughout the month with a delectable series of rose-inspired and rose-infused treats, from rose meringues to rose and raspberry cakes.

·       ‘Late’ openings every Friday in July - 6, 13, 20 and 27, when the garden will be open until 9pm and visitors can enjoy the gardens at dusk as the roses release their evening scent. Special offer of ‘5 after 5’ - £5 garden admission after 5pm. There will be live music and the restaurant will be serving delicious evening meals too (advance table reservations highly recommended).

·       Every Wednesday, there will rose-themed Afternoon Teas (pre-booking required) including an expert florist will demonstrate flower arranging techniques with English roses and be present for a Q & A session.

·       The Celebrate Summer self-guided trail will take visitors on a historic, scented journey throughout the 65 acre garden and includes stunning rose varieties and their fascinating stories from the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden and the Shrub Rose Garden, down the Long Borders, the Cottage Garden, as well as other roses at Rosemoor House.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS Members. Please visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor/whatson or call 01805 626810 for more details.