Farmers Must Consider Their Options

As we move towards the uncertainty of new trade arrangements, lower subsidy payments and potential labour provision issues post-Brexit, farmers are given the latest information on how they can develop and grow their farming enterprises.

Over 90 farmers and service industry representatives from across the North of England attended the inaugural H&H Land and Property On-Farm Business Conference held at Buckabank Farm, Dalston by kind permission of the Brough Family.

Neil Henderson, Senior Planner

Neil Henderson, Senior Planner

Dr Nick Prince, Senior Farm Business Advisor for H&H Land and Property argued that given the uncertainty of Brexit, and the impact these changes will have, standing still is not an option: “As we engage fully with global markets and competitors, farm businesses will need to adapt to remain viable and competitive.”

The conference focused on three elements of how farm business progression has taken place at Buckabank Farm and how the thought processes behind these developments are applicable to other farm businesses.

These included:

  • the implementation of a robotic milking system

  • engaging with planning law for development opportunities

  • the production of high quality fat lambs

Introducing the background to Buckabank Farm, Richard Brough gave an informative account of how an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 2001 had been the catalyst for change on the farm. He also discussed how the impact of his and brother Stephen’s families had shaped the development strategy implemented. Neil Brough then discussed the performance of the milking herd, demonstrating the passion, detail and interest needed to make a success of ambitious expansion projects.

Following this, Neil Henderson, Senior Planner, explained that if farmers wish to carry out development, preparation is vital and that engagement with the planning system was unavoidable. However, there is favourable status towards agricultural development and local planning authority policies were generally supportive of farm diversification. To conclude he reviewed permitted development rights for agricultural buildings and barn conversions plus the merits of outline and full planning applications.

Following on from these presentations, the audience split into groups to explore in more detail the three aspects of the business. Andrew Simpson, Lely and the Brough family, discussed the benefits and pitfalls of the robotic milking system. Steve Powdrill of AHDB, supported by Scott Donaldson of Harrison & Hetherington, provided guidance on lamb grading and meeting customer specification. Steve also organised a hotly contested lamb grading competition, with Trevor Taylor of Redlands Bank, Kirkby Thore, prevailing as the winner. Last, but not least, Dan Griffiths from Paragon Vets led a thought provoking discussion on the use of genomics in cattle breeding. Dan outlined the potential benefits and associated costs for an increasingly reliable and accessible management tool for the livestock sector.

Giving feedback on this, H&H and Land and Property’s first on-farm business conference, Director Tim Parsons, said:
“Our aim from the outset was to provide farmers with an interactive and informative event, which would also be a platform for open discussion. From the feedback we received, this was certainly achieved. The event demonstrated that there is optimism within the industry and whether it is through livestock production, milk production or other on-farm opportunities farmers are looking to the future. Topical issues were covered in detail and everyone was given practical first-hand information that they could take home and use to drive their own businesses forward.”

H&H Land

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