Diversify and adapt to survive and thrive in the ever-changing farming landscape
Lincolnshire Farming Conference – Diversification is a word on many people’s lips within the farming world but not everyone is hearing the message. And this is something that the Lincolnshire Farming Conference, held at Lincoln Showground, was trying to change with this year’s focus on managing risk and planning for the future. Held in late February, the conference saw a range of speakers spreading the diversification message to their audience.
Building financial resilience
One keynote speaker told the Lincolnshire Farming Conference of his farming diversification strategy to survive the tough farming environment. Doug Wanstall is a fourth-generation farmer from Kent who has expanded his poultry business to include 170,000 birds spread across several sites. He also owns a restaurant and several wedding venues, bringing in much needed additional income.
He told the Lincolnshire Farming Conference that farmers need to build financial resilience for themselves, in addition to needing the Government on-side promoting agricultural policies that work for the sector.
Mr Wanstall went on to say that all too often he hears farmers saying that they can’t do any more to improve productivity and profitability. His belief, however, is that every business needs someone driving it forward with a clear vision; someone who is constantly asking how the business can be made better. He stressed that those farmers who pay attention to detail will make money even in tough economic times while inefficient farmers will always lose money. Mr Wanstall’s own aim is to manage his business in such a way as to become the best in his chosen sectors, thus becoming a business that people want to work for, in turn bringing people with talent and foresight on board.
Looking to the future
Another speaker, Graham Redman, author of John Nix Pocketbook, suggested that farmers, in general, are not risk takers but that post-Brexit opportunities need to be sought. He said that some will move forward and take advantage of a changing world, while others will batten down the hatches and continue as before. Mr Redman also said that provided that farmers continue to create goods that are saleable, there will be a market willing to buy them.
Father and son arable and sheep farmers, Andrew and Simon Casswell, took away a positive message from the conference. Whilst they recognise that the possibility of losing EU subsidy payments is a worry, they are looking at the opportunities that will also present themselves and realise that they may not be able to rely on the Government for payments in the future.
However, not everyone was taking away a positive message. Roger Douglas, an arable farmer from the Lincolnshire Wolds, believes the post-Brexit farming landscape is looking very bleak, with crops left to rot in the fields and hedges left uncut. He fears that rural communities will be left decimated and doesn’t feel positive about the future.
Lincolnshire Farming Conference 2018
For those of you who were not able to attend this year’s Lincolnshire Farming Conference, it will be returning on 27 February 2018 at the Lincoln Showground.
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