CLA Rural Business Conference: Government must commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter for strong post-Brexit countryside

As 500 farmers and rural businesses gather in Westminster today to discuss the post-Brexit countryside with Defra Secretary Michael Gove, the CLA is calling for Government to commit to a new Enterprising Countryside Charter.

The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural businesses in England and Wales. Today’s CLA conference will examine how rural businesses and countryside communities are embracing change and how new policies are required to give them the ability to adapt and the confidence to flourish.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “I am delighted to be speaking alongside Tim Breitmeyer at this year’s CLA conference, which always takes a fresh look at the challenges and opportunities for rural businesses that are so vital to the economy and local communities.

“As we leave the EU there is tremendous scope for change and I’m confident that rural businesses will seize this opportunity. Within government we will also continue to deliver on the things that matter to rural communities, including £200 million funding for full-fibre broadband, increasing the availability of affordable housing and creating more than 6,000 new jobs in rural communities.”

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “With Brexit fast approaching and the new Agriculture Bill going through Parliament, those of us living and working in the countryside should be ready for rapid and significant change. We have a thriving entrepreneurial and creative rural business sector which is up for the challenge and ready to make the most of the opportunities Brexit presents.

“Rural businesses currently invest around £13bn each year in, for example, new technologies, generating renewable energy, start-ups such as restaurants on farm, and vineyards. This business investment is crucial for local communities, creating new rural jobs, food production and the environment, and Government must not overlook it as plans are drawn up for post-Brexit Britain. By committing to the Enterprising Countryside Charter, Government can create a more positive environment for rural businesses giving them the confidence to make the new investments needed for a strong rural economy as we adapt to life outside the EU and well beyond.”

The CLA’s “Enterprising Countryside Charter” comprises five policies essential to rural business growth post-Brexit (see attached for further details):

1. Rural Roaming between networks for better 4G mobile coverage in the countryside

2. New Rural Enterprise Frameworks for better business growth support locally

3. Use of Rural Enterprise Plans to improve consistency in the planning system

4. Bringing the current outdated criteria for a ‘sustainable village’ into the 21st Century

5. Extending the remit of the Minister with responsibility for rural business across both Defra and BEIS.

New CLA survey data underlines the need for Government to commit to these policies. Of 1,600 landowners, farmers and rural businesses surveyed, the majority are planning to invest in business growth in the next five years, such as setting up a rural visitor attraction or converting a redundant farm building for new use. However, many feel limited by major barriers such as lack of broadband / mobile coverage, the complexities of local planning policy, and uncertainty about Brexit outcomes. The new data also highlights a lack of Brexit contingency planning in the rural sector.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Only 21% of rural businesses, including farms, have started making Brexit contingency plans despite the far-reaching impacts anticipated for the countryside reflecting the uncertainty many are feeling. However, transformation in farming, land management and rural business is also being driven by longer-term influences such as social change, the digital revolution, and the need to tackle climate change. Today is a crucial forum to come together with Michael Gove and discuss how our businesses and communities will adapt to ensure a strong future for the countryside and for all its vital contributions to our nation.”

The extent of change for the countryside in the longer term is also highlighted by the new survey data – 30% of rural landowners are currently considering using less of their existing landholding for agriculture in the next 20 years. Of those, alternative uses could include:

o 42% are considering using more land for environmental enhancements

o 32% are considering using more land for housing

o 30% are considering using more land for recreation / visitor attractions

Beware mis-selling in the solar and storage markets

Small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and battery storage are looking increasingly attractive as capital costs decline and energy prices rise, but farms and estates should beware mis-selling in the market.

According to the independent power and energy consultancy Roadnight Taylor, the cost of solar technology has fallen by over 30% this year and will drop further following the EU’s abolition of its minimum price for Chinese imports. Alongside more than an 80% rise in wholesale energy costs since 2016, this has made investment increasingly viable for businesses.

“Depending on your on-site demand, generating your own power could pay back in as little as seven years, even without Government support,” says chief executive Hugh Taylor.

Installing batteries to absorb and deliver energy can also pay back quickly. “As well as benefiting from considerable energy cost savings, rural businesses can generate income by storing electricity to sell back into the grid during price spikes, and also by helping the National Grid balance supply and demand in real time. However, not all situations will be viable – yet – so it’s important to understand the intricacies of a specific project before committing to it.”

Mr Taylor suggests profiling the energy demands on-site – both on a half-hourly basis and throughout the year – to ascertain the feasibility and the correct size of any installation. “Some solar and battery installers are recommending that landowners install much larger schemes than would be appropriate, falsely justifying investment in larger schemes and inflating income projections for unviable sites.

“There are many sites which are not yet financially viable, but as technology prices drop and energy prices rise, many are likely to become so in the next few years, so it’s important to know where your site stands.”

To help farms and estates who are considering such projects, Roadnight Taylor has developed a ‘TrafficLight’ study, which profiles the energy demand, considers generation volumes and tariff structures, and ascertains the viability of a project based on leading and independent energy market projections. A green result means it’s worth investing now, amber means it is likely to be viable within three years, and red means it’s unlikely to be viable within that time.

“If you have an amber project we will monitor it for you over the succeeding three years and notify you when the site turns green,” explains Mr Taylor. “As our pool of green and amber sites grows, it is giving our clients more tendering power so they can also achieve higher revenues for lower investment.”

  • The TrafficLight study costs from £350 + VAT. For more information contact Roadnight Taylor on 01993 830571 or visit

Hugh Taylor CEO Roadnight Taylor small.jpg


Samaritans of Yeovil, Sherborne and District are delighted to announce they will shortly be moving into a new home.

Morley House, located on West Hendford, will become the new branch centre next year, once it has undergone a refurbishment programme.

Sarah Coote, Branch Director is delighted at the news. ‘It’s been a whirlwind year for our branch. We were extremely fortunate to be left an incredible legacy from a local resident which is going to help us to achieve our vision for this Branch of Samaritans – to increase our volunteer numbers so we can contribute to the national 24/7 service even more effectively and to offer more space for face to face callers.

We now have 116 listening and support volunteers at the Yeovil Branch. Our current base at 25 The Park is lovely but becoming too small for our needs. The location is also difficult for some people to find. We want to be right in the heart of the town centre, firmly embedded in the community, so we can be right there for when people need us, and Morley House delivers on all fronts.’

Morley House occupies just over 5,000 square feet over 3 floors. Formerly owned by South Somerset Council, the building came up for sale in late September and final bids were submitted in October.

Sarah said ‘The South West has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK’. ‘Whilst pressures on mental health services increase, there is an urgent need for safe, low cost venues to be made available to local organisations. We will be in a position to offer such a space at Morley House.’

‘We would like to thank everyone who was so supportive of our Branch in the bid process. It’s lovely to know so many people value our contribution to Yeovil and the surrounding environs. Of course, our biggest thanks go to Mr John Grant whose generous legacy has made this purchase possible.’

Could you volunteer with Samaritans? If you are over 18, why not join us at our information evenings on the first Wednesday of every month which will be held at our current premises at 25 The Park until we move to our new centre. You will be fully trained and become part of a supportive, friendly and worthwhile organization working in a fantastic new building. To find out more, call our information line on 01935 414015, email or visit our website at

New Royal Welsh Winter Fair Commercial Hide Competition

New, for this year’s Winter Fair, the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society has joined forces with an up-and coming Welsh entrepreneur, Hayley Hanson, to launch a new and exciting competition for the most commercial viable cattle hide at the fair.

With the emphasis on quality Welsh produce, Hayley established her own business, Hayley Hanson, back in 2016. By utilising the hides of her own commercial beef animals sent to slaughter, Hayley makes luxury leather goods from hides produced to the highest welfare standards. The hides are then tanned and processed within the UK - a fully traceable and sustainable process from farm to arm!

Hayley and her husband Mike, who rear cattle on their family farm, nestled between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, will be judging the new competition on Sunday night (25 November).

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Hayley designs all her luxury leather products, which are produced from high quality, sustainable Welsh leather.

Inspecting all eligible animals whilst they are settled in their stalls, ready for a busy few days of Winter Fair competitions ahead, Hayley and Mike will be looking for the animal which potentially has the best hide for turning into luxury commercial leather products, such as handbags, wallets, upholstery, etc. The intention will be that Hayley will use the winning hide for some of her future products, perhaps producing a range of Royal Welsh leather goods.

Eligible cattle will have a Welsh passport and will be sold for slaughter at the sale on the Tuesday of the event.

“We are always looking at ways of keeping our events and the competitions up-to-date and this new hide competition is perfect” says Will Hanks, Winter Fair Director.

“This is the first competition of its kind in the UK and we are delighted that not only does it showcase the versatility and quality of our excellent Welsh livestock, it also highlights the importance of diversification and sustainability within our sector in these uncertain times.

“The Winter Fair really is the place to see the Welsh livestock farming in its entirety. Whether it’s the animals in the show rings, the carcasses on display, the finished products in the food hall and our new taste test competitions or now… high quality Welsh leather!”

For more information on Hayley and her diversification business, Hayley Hanson, please visit

Seaweed science to boost crop yields

Seaweed technology could be the answer to boosting crop yields at a time of declining chemical efficacy, with scientific breakthroughs revealing the multiple benefits of algae.

The Olmix Group, which has invested tens of millions of euros into algae research and innovation since 2012, recently hosted a visit to its Brittany-based laboratories and manufacturing site. Following the acquisition of UK-based Micromix – a firm specialising in foliar nutrition and biostimulants – it invited four agricultural journalists from the UK to learn more about the science behind the technology.

“A lot of seaweed is being simply processed and sold as a plant booster, but Olmix has a scientific understanding of what the molecules are actually doing,” says Chris Gamble, sales manager at Micromix. “Now we know the plant genomes we can see exactly what the different active ingredients are doing.”

Olmix harvests seaweed from the Breton coast once it has reached the end of its lifecycle – so it is a sustainable product. Given the high tidal reach of the area the seaweed is particularly strong, which is reflected in its biochemical make-up and stress tolerance.

When broken down into its components: Carbohydrates, proteins, sulphated polysaccharides and nutrients, the seaweed can then be used to boost crop and soil health, explains Didier Blin, plant care manager at Olmix. “Each has a different action on the plant, from growth stimulation to boosting the plant’s natural defence mechanisms against stress.”

Combined with micronutrients, inorganic acids, or clay, the products can be applied at different growth stages for maximum effect, says Maria Matard-Mann, research projects manager. “We are using seaweed as a complement to crop and soil health, not the only part of nutrition. That’s what makes the difference – having both a nutritional and biological activity.”

There are more than 9,800 species of seaweed, with a greater genetic diversity than fungi and animals combined. Many elements – such as sulphated polysaccharides – are not present in land plants, which is what makes them so useful, she adds.

“As crops don’t recognise marine sulphated polysaccharides they respond with immune aggression, which improves their resistance to stress or disease.” Algal hormones stimulate root growth and nutrient absorption, while biological activators boost humification in the soil.

“Farmers have to produce more and better with less, to feed the planet in a sustainable way,” says international director Jean-Marie Bocher. “We believe algae can be the answer.”

John Swire, editor of the Agronomist & Arable Farmer, reckons it’s essential that alternative approaches are explored given the lack of new chemical controls. “Reducing inputs has got to be the right thing,” he says. “We’re looking at the end of the chemical revolution in agriculture. The technology is fascinating and I really do believe there is a place for such innovative approaches to the growing of crops in the future.”

Lucy de la Pasture, technical editor at CPM, agrees. “Seaweed extracts have been around for a long time but their action is not well understood. The investment and R&D Olmix is pouring into harnessing the properties of marine algae is a reassuring injection of science into a field that has been a dark art.

“I firmly believe that understanding the complex interactions between a crop and its environment, together with supporting the plant’s own defence mechanisms, will provide the backbone for crop production in the future.”

©OLMIX Récolteuse algues - Olmix Group - DJI_0046 (Small).jpeg

Julius Longman Appointed as the New Chairman of the British Cheese Awards

Julius Longman has been appointed as the new chairman of the British Cheese Awards.

Julius says: “I am honoured to have been appointed chairman of the British Cheese Awards. Having been involved with the awards for many years, over the past few years as vice-chairman, I’m looking forward to steering it into 2019 and beyond.”

“The British cheesemaking industry is vibrant and diverse. We’re fortunate in this country to have such a great number of dedicated, expert and skilled cheesemakers that are renowned for their commitment to quality. It will be interesting to see the cheeses entered for the 2019 awards on 29th May.”

Julius was born into the world of British cheese. His family have been dairy farmers and cheesemakers for over four generations. His day-to-day life involves running his family dairy farm as well as being the sales director of his own company, Longmans, where he created the company’s main brand “The Vale of Camelot Cheddar and Cheese” range.

In his spare time Julius loves to spend time with his wife and two boys, walking his dogs and has a keen interest in sport, particularly rugby.

This year’s British Cheese Awards, its 25th year, attracted over 1,000 entries from 147 makers, with 77 judges reviewing 123 classes of cheese. Cheeses entered came from over 54 counties that covered the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland.

The 2019 British Cheese Awards will take place on Wednesday 29th May 2019 at the Royal Bath and West Show (29th May - 1 June 2019) at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Sponsors for this year’s awards included the following companies: Atalanta Corp, Atlas Packaging, Aubrey Allen, Barbers, Berkshire Labels, Bord Bia, Charlton House, Coombe Castle International, Delamere Dairy, DuPont™ Danisco®, Fine Food Digest, Harvey & Brockless, Marks & Spencer, Murray’s Cheese, Paxton & Whitfield, Peter Green Chilled, Rowcliffe, Anthony & Son, Somerdale International, Specialist Cheesemakers Association, Speciality Food Magazine, Tesco, The British Organic Dairy Company, The Fine Cheese Co., West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Wookey Hole Cave Aged and Wyke Farms Ltd.


Pig & Poultry Fair wins national award

The Technical Events Team at Grandstand Stoneleigh Events were delighted to be awarded the organising team of the year at a prestigious event at London’s Honourable Artillery Company last week.

The team won the award for organising the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s 2018 British Pig & Poultry Fair, the leading professional business event for the sectors which takes place at the NAEC Stoneleigh.

The judges praised the collaborative approach of the team who constantly strive to deliver the greatest possible value for visitors and exhibitors alike, keeping the event relevant and working closely with industry bodies and organisations.

“This award is well deserved and recognises all the hard work which goes on behind the scenes to deliver the Fair to such a high standard,” says Andrew Lazenby, chief executive at the Royal Agricultural Society of England. “We know our events are in good hands with Alice and her team.”

Feedback from the 2018 Fair has some very impressive statistics; 97% of visitors rated their visit to the event as good or excellent and 80% planned to make changes to their business as a result of their visit – testament that the Fair is working for pig and poultry producers.

Exhibitors had a good event too with 100% of exhibitors meeting most or all of their objectives of exhibiting and 95% rating the organisation of the Fair as good or excellent.

“We feel extremely privileged to organise the British Pig & Poultry Fair and are really pleased to win this award for the industry as a whole,” says Alice Bell, Head of the Technical Events Team. “We might be a specialist sector, but it is great to see our industry event getting recognised at a national level. We really want to thank everyone who helped make the 2018 Fair such a success, from all the exhibitors who built fabulous stands, to the visitors who travelled to Stoneleigh and everyone in between.”

Held in May at the NAEC Stoneleigh, the Fair attracts over 370 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors, who attend to see what is new, gather advice and hear from the experts. Planning is already under way for the next Fair taking place on 12th & 13th May 2020, which promises to be even better still!

The divorce overhaul and protecting your farm assets

Everybody hopes their marriage or partnership will last forever – but divorce is on the rise in the South West, and proposed changes to the law could make it easier to bring a divorce about.

This means that, while no one wants to put a dampener on the romantic mood, it really is worth considering putting various protections in place, especially when there are family-owned assets such as a farming business or land which have been passed down the generations.

Figures show that couples in the South West are going against a national trend, with an increase in the number seeking divorces. There was a 16 per cent rise in the first four months of 2018, when compared to 2017 - this equates to an extra 1,200 divorces across the region in the past year.

Meanwhile, changes to divorce law could have far-reaching effects. These would involve the introduction of a concept of ‘no fault’ divorce. At present, a divorce must involve one party blaming the other (and proving it) on the grounds of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion.

But if government proposals are agreed – and they generally have wide backing – then neither party would have to prove anything. Simply wanting a divorce would be sufficient.

This would make it much easier to get divorced. It would also mean that divorces could happen earlier, because at present couples have to live separately for two years if no blame can be proven. Even then, if one party doesn’t agree to the split then couples have to live apart for five years before they can divorce.

Given all of these factors, it really is advisable to think about putting some protections in place, especially for farmland that has been passed down through generations of a family and businesses where third parties are involved. Nowadays, more and more people are doing just that, in the form of prenuptial agreements (before marrying), cohabitation agreements (for those not actually marrying) or sometimes postnuptial agreements (if already married).

Although not strictly speaking legally binding, the court will give considerable weight to such agreements if they are in place.

In the best-case scenario, the agreement may never be needed and in the worst-case scenario it may save you the emotional and financial drain of contested Court proceedings.

For more information, please visit

Victoria Strode, Head of Family at Mogers Drewett

Victoria Strode, Head of Family at Mogers Drewett

Are farmers looking to transform their land?

 You’ll usually find a farm filmed with lots of different animals. Whether it’s pigs, cows, or sheep, farm land is usually a place for agricultural processes. However, the UK’s farms have started to house other projects, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, campsites, and adventure. But the ideas aren’t stopping there as certain farms look for a unique selling point to bring in customers.

However, did you know that Britain has a total of 20 million hectares which accounts for around 64% of the country’s land. While we still produce over five and a half million tonnes of potatoes and two million hectares of wheat is harvested in eastern England each year, weird and wonderful projects continue to ‘crop’ up. Here, with Lycetts, who provide insurance for farms, we take a look at some of the most extravagant and outlandish conversions seen on farm land in the United Kingdom.  

A look towards tank driving

A farm in Dumfries, south-west Scotland has set up a tank driving experience. Scottish farmer Ian Evans had a lifelong fascination with the military machinery and decided to turn his dreams into a reality when he launched Galloway Tanks and offered members of the public a unique tank-driving day.

Evans decided to buy his own in 1998. His Penklin Farm near Newton Stewart now boasts a magnificent cavalry of 20 tanks, including a Chieftain and four 432s. The day-long experience can cost as little as £50 and includes driving the machinery up rolling hills on his 14ha plot of farmland. There are also separate tracks for each vehicle.  

A look towards curling rink

You can’t blame for farmers around Britain that want to make the most out of the land they have. Ernest Fenton moved to Kent in England from Scotland and converted his cowshed into a curling rink when he started missing the sport. Now, the facility just outside of Tunbridge Wells is recognised as England’s only dedicated curling rink.

After speaking to a Canadian curling expert, Ernest began to import from North America to reap great benefits. Fenton’s Rink claims to be ideal for staff outings, team-building events, and Christmas parties.


Are more farmers open to hosting festivals?

Festivals are popping up all over the country, but they require large amounts of land to handle the floods of people who attend. With the likes of Barn on the Farm in Gloucester and the previously popular Wickerman Festival in Dumfries & Galloway, the music scene is taking advantage of the open space offered by farmland. Lounge on the Farm in Kent is another and has been running for 12 years. Although it may disrupt the usual farming activities for a short while, the money that can be brought in from renting out the space for a weekend can go a long way to covering costs for the entire year.


Are more farmers open to creating a holiday village?

More people are interested in staying at home rather than flying abroad — and more farms are offering camping and glamping retreats. Farms such as Glanmor Isaf Farm in Bangor, North Wales, are doing just that, opening up their space to the public so they can experience a taste of the Welsh countryside.

If you’re a sucker for a nice view when you’re away, this mountainous location will definitely make a great Instagram post. If you choose to attend in early summer there’s even the chance to feed the pet lambs, while Welsh Black cattle, pigs, mountain sheep, and chickens are always in the vicinity. For those wanting more of the hands-on experience, why don’t you rent your own private chicken coop?

 If you do go ahead with such plans, don’t forget that you may need woodland insurance

Are more farmers open to hosting sports events?

There are plenty of sporting events that take place on farms around the country. In Peterlee, Thornley Hall Farm has found itself added to the cross-country circuit in the North Eastern Harrier league..

Rapley Farm is home to the Spartan Race too. The series, which tests competitors’ physically abilities to the fullest by pitting them against an array of challenging obstacles, sees athletes travel the country to collect their medals after each run. Obstacles often include a barbed wire crawl, atlas carry, fire jump, and rope climb.

There’s no reason why farmers shouldn’t’ be making more use of their land, as animals can only take up so much space! What idea would you like to see next appear on a farm near you?






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.

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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

  • 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