Farm business resilience is key

Last year's farriery event

Last year's farriery event - Credit: Archant

THE New Year is always a good time to take stock and reflect on the forthcoming year and what it holds for our businesses – the factors that are affecting growth and success and how to manage them in volatile times.

Delegates at last year's SAA conference

Delegates at last year's SAA conference - Credit: Archant

With this in mind, the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s 2013 agricultural conference, entitled ‘Creating the resilient farm business,’ draws together key national and regional speakers to address how the region’s farm businesses can become more resilient to outside factors such as increasing price volatility in agricultural commodities and farm inputs, and includes practical advice, first hand experiences and success stories.

Among them is CLA President Harry Cotterell who owns and manages a traditional rural estate in Herefordshire. The 650 ha farming operation is all “in hand”, except for potato lets, with principal land use remaining arable (wheat and oilseed rape). The main enterprise comprises new cider fruit orchards annually producing up to 10,000 tonnes of apples.

During the past 20 years his strategy has been to move from subsidised crops to supplying local markets. The farm provides one million chickens per year and 11,500kg of mushrooms a week for a supermarket chain.

Chris Wilson from World First Foreign Exchange will investigate ‘The effects of the currency markets on a farming business,’ a critical aspect of operating a farming business and consider the options which are available to mitigate the risks of currency movements.

Sharing the podium will be Ashley Gilman, AtlasFram’s Group Business Manager. His presentation ‘Providing a comprehensive risk-management service for your farming business’ will highlight how the Group enables its members to manage risk more effectively.

Former Farmer’s Weekly Arable Farmer of the Year, consultant Andrew Ward, will provide a hands-on assessment of the agricultural industry’s potential in his presentation ‘The farmer’s view of the future of UK arable farming’. In 2010 his farm became the Agrii Smart Farm demonstration site for Lincolnshire. He regularly lectures to and hosts foreign farmer visits on behalf of Simba with farmers, consultants and agronomists from across the world. He is currently in the process of signing a contract with a 120,000 acre farm in the Ukraine, advising them on changing their cultivation system to non ploughing.

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Suffolk farmer Richard Symes, a renewable energy enthusiast, will discuss ‘Renewable energy on the farm’. Richard recently installed a 275kw wind turbine on his 390-acres at Bramfield and climate change concerns have led him to develop a larger, more profitable business that is net carbon neutral.

Stuart Carpenter, Head of Procurement for ADM Direct, one of the world’s largest processors of agricultural crops, will demonstrate how farmers can add value in his presentation ‘Achieving premiums in commodity markets – a move towards sustainability’.

Sponsored by AtlasFram Group, the UK’s foremost farmer-owned farm inputs purchasing and crop marketing co-operative, together with leading law firm Mills & Reeve, the conference on February 26 at Trinity Park will be chaired by Suffolk farmer James Forrest.

Justin Ripman, Partner at Mills & Reeve, added: “We are delighted once again to be a co-sponsor of the SAA conference which this year focuses on providing advice, guidance and inspiration to enable all those involved in the business of farming to adapt to, and take advantage of, the changes and the challenges that the current market has created.”

Tickets cost £35 for SAA and AtlasFram Members, £40 for non-members and £30 for delegates under 30, and includes a buffet lunch at 12.45pm. They can be booked at or over the phone on 01473 707118, or email

Suffolk Show Stoppers...

May 29 and 30 is only 130 days away!

It’s already been a busy January meeting existing and potential sponsors, says Suffolk Show Director David Nunn. We are delighted to welcome new sponsors Wilson Wraight Agricultural Machinery Consultants who are sponsoring the Showground Plan and stockbrokers Brewin Dolphin sponsors of the VPs’ Ringside Club, both on-board for the first time in 2013 and looking forward to getting their brands in front of the 90,000 audience.

“We also thank Stanfords, the Colchester Livestock Market for increasing their support and Suffolk New College for becoming our new sponsors of the wonderful Flower and Garden Experience,” he said.

There are still plenty of opportunities for all regional businesses to play an active part in the Show. Call Sue Bennitt on 01473 707112 for further sponsorship details and to arrange a meeting.

Call for tradestands for two new areas: Made In Suffolk is a brand new initiative designed to promote and support local businesses manufacturing and producing non-food items throughout the county. The stands are partially subsidised by the Association as an incentive to new businesses to showcase their products.

Homes and Gardens will have a prominent site by the Flower and Garden Experience and will be a true destination for outdoor and conservatory lifestyle products.

To find out more and to reserve your site call Paula Slater Tradestand Officer on 01473 707114 or

Don’t forget discounted Suffolk Show tickets are on sale online now at www.suffolkshow/buytickets.

If you haven’t renewed your Association membership or would like to become a Member or buy it as a gift you can call 01473 707110 or visit the Members’ area at

Date for your diary:

AGM: February 11 at 11.30am, Trinity Park. Members should have received the 2012 Annual Review and agenda by now.

Farriery Forges ahead – but act fast for 2013 events including new pre-diploma Training Day

The opening of the new Richard Gowing Farriery Centre, at Trinity Park, comprising 12 forges, has doubled the Association’s capacity for farriery and was named after the late farrier from Ely who was also a heavy horse steward and SAA Council member.

Sponsored by AJN Steelstock, it is destined to become the Eastern region’s centre for farriery training, international competitions and events.

New for 2013 is the Pre-Diploma Day on Saturday April 6, designed to give farrier apprentices an insight into the Diploma of the Worshipful Company of Farriers Diploma examination (Dip WCF). Each apprentice will experience all of the Dip WCF exams in shortened form. Places are limited so early booking is essential.

The CPD Training Day and Eastern Counties Spring Championships will be held for the third year running as follows:

Hands-On Clinic with Darren Bazin AWCF - Friday 1 March 2013

Eastern Counties Spring Championship - Saturday 2 March 2013

Booking is essential and closes on February 8, 2013.

The schedule, application forms and ferther details can be downloaded at

Information is also posted on our Facebook page

Schedules and entry forms for farriery competitions at the 2013 Show will be available online shortly.