Suffolk farming sisters set to showcase successful diversifications

Lucy and Emily McVeigh. Picture: AF GROUP

Lucy and Emily McVeigh. Picture: AF GROUP - Credit: AF Group

Entrepreneurial Suffolk sisters Emily and Lucy McVeigh will be under the spotlight as they describe how they built up their successful farm diversifications at the Norfolk Farming Conference.

The event, which takes place at the John Innes Centre in Norwich on Thursday, February 1, is set to focus on how farmers can seize opportunities from Brexit and changes in UK agricultural policy.

It will be chaired by National Farmers’ Union (NFU) vice president and Essex farmer Guy Smith, and features a number of influential figures, with an opening speech from farming minister George Eustice MP and a video address from HRH The Prince of Wales.

There will be presentations on innovations and the opportunities presented by agri-tech, before the spotlight is shone on the next generation of farm business entrepreneurs and innovators, including Emily and Lucy.

While Lucy oversees the family’s herd of English Longhorn cattle on the 460-acre Kenton Estate near Debenham, Emily runs diversifications including a wedding venue, a glamping site, and a cookery school.

“It’s about constantly reacting to what people are wanting. It can be quite difficult when you’ve had an idea, and you’re emotionally invested in it, to look at the figures and realise that you need to do something different and move with the times,” said Emily, who takes over as chairman of the Farmers’ Club’s Under 30s group in February.

“The three diversifications are held together by the beef and the food element, because this was universal across all the businesses. It takes a lot of research and thought to get an idea of how your businesses will work, how they will fit together, and how you can make them work efficiently.”

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The sisters’ presentation will also focus on working with family and succession.

“Family working together has its challenges, as does succession,” said Emily.“I think our family is quite unique in terms of our relationship because we are very good at communicating. For me, that’s the biggest challenge for others who want to move forward with diversifications. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of your family and say ‘I’ve got this idea, what does everyone think?’”

Contact 01603 881827 or email for tickets.