WINTER JOURNAL 2014 â€˘ ISSUE 253
Farmers Club INSIDE Club news p4 Land values p8 Conservation skills p9 Youth opportunity p10 Adam Henson & Highgrove p12 Market speculation p14 Anaerobic digestion p16 By-gone farming p19
INSERTS Cyril Costello collection Rubens exhibition Swan Lake ballet
Liz Truss visits Defra secretary fields questions from Club members
Farmers Club Over 170 years of service to farming 3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL Patron – Her Majesty The Queen
FRONT COVER Defra Secretary of State the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss addressed the Club in early November, answering a wide range of questions from members.
Disclaimer: The articles published in The Farmers Club Journal do not necessarily reflect the views of The Farmers Club. No responsibility for the quality of goods or services advertised in the magazine can be accepted by the publisher. Advertisements are included in good faith’. All rights reserved.
Chairman’s Comments Reflections on the past twelve months
Club News & Calendar New Club website makes for easier room and Club event booking, plus the Club Restaurant’s new Winter Menu is launched
Secretar y of State meets the Club Liz Truss, the new Secretary of State at Defra, met members and fielded questions at the Club earlier this month
Land values Farmland investor profiles are changing
Conser vation champion Integrated farm and wildlife management wins in Essex
10 Youth opportunities Farming needs new skills, which agronomy firm Agrovista is busy nurturing through a dedicated academy programme
12 Adam Henson and HRH Prince Charles Engaging public interest in farming and striving for greater sustainability were key themes of the IFAJ tour
14 World market speculation Commodity price spikes have little to do with speculators. Market fundamentals and trade policies are to blame
16 Anaerobic digestion Canadian experiences with on-farm anaerobic digestion, as reported by a Farmers Club Charitable Trust beneficiary
18 Renewable energy figures Energy from renewable resources is expanding rapidly
18 Beethoven concert A marvellous Club outing to London’s Royal Albert Hall
19 By-gone farming Spell-binding prose and evocative images transport the reader back to farming and rural life in the 1930s and 1940s.
20 Under 30s Under 30s Chairman’s notes, Autumn Dining Evening report and a look at maximising the value of farmland
22 Club Information and Contacts 02 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Chairman’s Comments • Jimmy McLean
about the harvest, but in an industry where uncertainty abounds, he also talked about our tendency to worry. How often does worrying about tomorrow take away from our enjoyment of today? The harvest service was followed by an excellent buffet supper in the Club, where our kitchen and restaurant staff were stars. The whole event had a really happy feel to it, and I think all who attended felt it epitomised what the Farmers Club is all about.
Chairman’s Comments “I am cheered by the fact that, if nature does sleep, she does not sleep for long and before we know it, it will be spring again.”
I much prefer springtime! Like many people the move through autumn to winter is not my favourite time of year. We have left the warm days of summer behind, the harvest is safely gathered in and most of next year’s grain crop is planted. The days are darker and damper, the nights are longer and colder and nature appears to be going to sleep. However, I am cheered by the fact that, if nature does sleep, she does not sleep for long and before we know it, it will be spring again as the cycle of life continues. I much prefer springtime. It has been quite a year. Daily temperatures have been almost 2 degrees Centigrade above the 30 year average, every month so far this year, with the exception of August. Although for some the year began with flooding, for the most part the weather has been as good as British weather can be. As a result our crops and livestock have generally grown well. We met as a Club to acknowledge this and give thanks for the harvest at St Martin-in-the-Fields in October. Over 120 members and guests attended the service led by the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro. Tim not only spoke with gratitude
In September, Jane and I enjoyed a day at the Westmorland County Show, where the Club held an evening reception. This is a traditional county show, which is well worth a visit (and don’t believe what they say about the weather – it was a perfect late summer’s day!). It was also a privilege to host the Honorary members lunch that month and say ‘thank you’ to those who have supported the Club for so long – the total length of membership by those attending must have been close to 2000 years! There are still a number of events to look forward to before my year finishes. However, this is my last ‘Chairman’s Comments’. The year has flown by – as I was told it would – but Jane and I have enjoyed every minute. We have been invited to so many wonderful events and met some lovely people, as we travelled from Devon to Orkney, Northern Ireland to Norfolk and many points in between. It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to represent this great Club.
Grateful thanks I would like to thank my fellow committee members and our excellent staff, who have provided unstinting support throughout the year. I also want to thank all of you who have given Jane and I such wonderful encouragement, and the odd bit of advice. We have enjoyed making new friends at Club events and also all the casual conversations we have had in and around the Club. I also want to wish my successor, Anne Chamberlain and her husband Denis, a happy and fulfilling year. I know she has some great events planned for 2015. So, thank you all. I hope you have a very happy Christmas, in the company of those you hold dearest, and wish you a prosperous and peaceful New Year.
New Club Website It’s here! The transformed Club website (www.thefarmersclub.com) went live in late October to very favourable comment from members. Not only is on-line booking of bedrooms and events easier than ever, it gives a great insight into all the Club has to offer too. To make full use of the site members need to register, which involves entering your email address and your Club Membership number, which can be found on the envelope of your
Farmers Club Journal. However, please be aware that if the email address we hold for you on our database has changed, or we don’t have one at all, you will need to inform us of what it is. To do this please contact either: IT Manager Mr Hamid Khaldi, 020 7925 7108, ITManager@thefarmersclub.com OR Membership Secretary Mr Mark Fairbairn, 020 7925 7102, email@example.com
www.thefarmersclub.com • 03
Stephen Skinner • Club News
Club News New website makes booking easier I am delighted to inform you that the Club’s new website is now up and running. This will enable members to book bedrooms on-line, see their accounts and book Club events as well. Also, once you have registered with the site, you will be able, should you so wish, to join in the debates we will feature on what we hope are the key agricultural issues of the day. You can also read back issues of the Journal, have access to reports by Farmers Club Charitable Trust bursary winners and the reports of Pinnacle Award winners too, all within our electronic ‘library’. As I mention above, to make full use of the site you will need to register, which will involve entering your email address and your Club Membership number, which can be found on the envelope of your Farmers Club Journal. However, please be aware that if the email address we hold for you on our database has
New website means members can book rooms and events online.
changed, or we don’t have one at all, you will need to inform us of what it is. To do this please contact either: IT Manager Mr Hamid Khaldi Telephone: 020 7925 7108 Email: ITManager@thefarmersclub.com OR Membership Secretary Mr Mark Fairbairn Telephone: 020 7925 7102 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With the coming of winter, comes the introduction of our Winter Menu which, although it still features such favourites as The Farmers Club Homemade Scotch Egg, it introduces new dishes such as Pan Roasted Partridge with Caramelized Figs, Partridge Sausage Roll and Parsnip Cream.
The response we have had to the new menus and the quality and consistency of the food coming from the kitchen has been really good. The evidence for this is, firstly, that the Restaurant is now regularly full for both lunch and dinner and, secondly, the feedback I am 04 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
As we do every year, the Chairman has written to you all suggesting you might like to contribute to the Staff Christmas Fund. The generosity shown by so many is enormously appreciated by the staff who do not of course receive gratuities throughout the year. If you haven’t already, you might like to consider doing so using either the insert that was in the last edition of the Journal or, you could drop me a short note with a cheque or credit card details and we will do the rest.
Restaurant launches Winter Menu
Alternatively, we are offering, among other dishes, Steamed Halibut with Shoestring Vegetables and Mussels. And to finish off, why not enjoy Spotted Dick or Gloucester Lardy Cake? Assuming the diet allows!
Staff Christmas Fund
New winter menu combines seasonal specialities with established favourites.
receiving has been almost universally positive. This might be seen as a marked contrast to what we experienced in past years. Given the above, I strongly advise you to book a table in the Restaurant if you anticipate eating here and, secondly, keep the feedback coming. Good or bad, it is invaluable to us as we seek to improve what we do still further.
As I write this piece we have yet to count the votes cast on the ballot papers, but could I take this opportunity to thank all of you who took the trouble to vote. The results will be announced at our 11 November General Committee Meeting and I will publish them on our new website shortly thereafter (but only after personally informing each of the candidates of their success or otherwise). Whatever the result, on behalf of the Chairman, I would like to thank those who have so willingly put their names forward.
Correction I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to Mrs G Borner, her family, friends and colleagues for incorrectly announcing her premature death in the Autumn Journal. This was a genuine mistake but, of course, one that should not have happened. I appreciate the great upset this would have caused. We are of course delighted that Mrs Borner has agreed to remain a member of the Club.
Club Closure From 12 noon on Tuesday 23 December 2014 to 3.00pm on Monday 5 January 2015. Members may book a bedroom to stay when the Club is closed on the understanding that it is on a room only basis as no other facilities are available.
Club News • Stephen Skinner
Club Calendar Diary Dates Please check the dates carefully as they sometimes change and new dates are added for each issue. Details of Club events circulated in the previous issues are available from the Secretariat on 020 7930 3751. NOVEMBER St Andrews Day Lunch Friday 28th At RBS HQ, Gogarburn, Edinburgh
Under 30s November dining evening Friday 28th Guest speaker Caroline Drummond, chief executive LEAF. Book on-line at www.thefarmersclub.com/under30s/events
St Andrew’s Day Lunch
DECEMBER Statoil Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall – FULL Friday 5th Supper in the Club with coach transfer to/from the tennis.
Messiah at Royal Albert Hall – FULL Friday 19th Supper in the Club followed by magnificent Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall.
Once again this year the Club enjoyed a wonderful Harvest Festival Service at St Martinin-the-Fields, followed by a magnificent buffet supper in the Club.
New Year’s Eve Party – FULL Wednesday 31st
Masters tennis The Service was led by Bishop Peter Hullah around the theme of ‘Making Sense in a World of Conflict’, with a wonderful sermon full of humour and relevance delivered by the Bishop of Truro, Bishop Tim Thornton (also a Club member). I should also like to thank The Revd Dr Gordon Gatward who once again led the prayers. Our Head Chef put together some of the best baskets of produce I have seen in my time at the Club, the contents of which were gratefully received by St Martin’s homeless.
JANUARY 2015 Oxford Farming Conference Monday 5th – Wednesday 7th For info only – not a Club event
LAMMA Show Wednesday 21st – Thursday 22nd For info only – not a Club event
FEBRUARY Under 30s New Members Weekend and AGM New Years Eve
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th Watch for details at www.thefarmersclub.com/under-30s/events
Swan Lake ballet at the Royal Opera House Friday 13th Supper at the Club and coach transfer to and from Royal Opera House. Application form enclosed with this issue
Back at the Club we were treated to probably the best buffet supper I have been lucky enough to experience here. The compliments were warm and sincere and, as ever, the atmosphere friendly and convivial. It really is one of the best nights in the Club’s calendar.
Madam Butterfly – FULL Friday 27th Supper at the Club and coach transfer to/from Royal Opera House.
Stunning Swan Lake ballet
MARCH Rubens at The Royal Academy Friday 13th Lunch in the Club and coach transfer to the RA. Application form enclosed with this issue
APRIL St George’s Day Lunch (venue tbc) Thursday 23rd
Sensational Rubens at the RA
www.thefarmersclub.com • 05
Charles Abel • Defra policy
Defra’s Liz Truss meets the Club Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss gave an engaging profile of Defra’s agenda on her first visit to the Farmers Club. Charles Abel reports
“Some say farming is a sunset industry, but they are wrong. I see it as a sunrise industry, with huge potential.”
EIGHTEEN months ago Defra Secretary Owen Paterson swept into the Farmers Club to deliver his views on food, farming and the rural sector in a barrage of clipped messages, delivered with great gusto and ruthless efficiency.
employs one in eight people in the UK, and is bigger than car manufacturing or aerospace. I want it to have the same level of interest and investment, and focus on developing people with the right skills, as other industries.”
When his successor, Elizabeth Truss, visited this November she was calm, confident, and engaging, with a heart-felt enthusiasm for the sector, and a real sense of empathy and willingness to listen.
She agreed that European decision making on farm inputs needed to shift from a hazard-based system, to a risk-based one. “We need to be on a level playing field with other countries, so we are not importing food that has been grown with products that are banned here.”
Admittedly, with just three months under her belt, her understanding of her brief was still building. Indeed, Farmers Club members were generous in providing a wealth of perspective and context, with the Secretary accepting several requests for meetings and due note taken of examples of challenges, particularly around red tape. How refreshing – a Defra secretary prepared to listen! Ms Truss was particularly eager to focus on farming’s public profile. “Some say farming is a sunset industry, but they are wrong. I see it as a sunrise industry, with huge potential. Farming is the backbone of our £100bn food industry, which
Technology could help, she added, pointing to the Copernicus satellite initiative to provide more data for crop input decisions. “But we also need to challenge the nay-sayers, some of whom don’t recognise the progress that the industry has made.” A request for Defra to look carefully at the Andersons Report into the threat to plant protection products was noted, particularly given the fear that Defra’s implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive could jeopardise a lot of crop protection
More than 70 members gathered at the Club for an insightful update on Defra policy from Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss.
06 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Defra policy • Charles Abel
chemistry, including oilseed rape blackgrass herbicides, metaldehyde slug pellets and triazole fungicides if the 0.1ppb limit is adopted. “The precautionary principle is extremely problematic and we need to look at what decisions can be taken at UK level, not EU level, because disproving a negative is so difficult,” Ms Truss noted. “I have seen that in Norfolk, with trying to prove no harm to stone curlews, for example.” More needed to be done to shift the discussion to recognising the merits of farming practices, she added. “The nuclear industry used to have a very poor profile, but it successfully promoted itself in the face of carbon and fossil fuel concerns. Farming could do something similar to promote to the wider public the benefits of plant health products in terms of feeding a growing world population and providing food security in the UK.” Even greater use needed to be made of social media, and engaging with schools, so teachers understood agriculture and horticulture. Both subjects were now included in the compulsory design and technology elements of the national curriculum, which she had overseen at the Department of Education. “Now we need to win the hearts and minds of teachers.” She wanted more farmers in schools to talk about farming. “I’ve often see other businesses in schools, but not farmers.” Bovine TB remained a priority, with vet numbers protected despite budget cuts and the cull/vaccinate/ cattle movement strategy continuing, in an effort to get TB rates down from what became the highest in Europe in 2010. On food imports Ms Truss was scathing of apple and cheese imports accounting for two thirds of domestic consumption. The Bonfield Report had over-turned a lowest-cost EU diktat to open a £400m market for British food in public sector organisations, including Defra’s canteen, which now serves British bacon. Defra was pushing hard to open new export markets. She claimed 600 such openings had been achieved since 2010, with US beef and Chinese pork markets now close to opening. “At SIAL in France I noticed how important the British flag and brand was to buyers, signalling quality, good practise and fantastic taste.”
Defra Secretary Elizabeth Truss – a philosophy, politics and economics graduate of Merton College, Oxford, former Undersecretary of State for Health and current MP for South West Norfolk.
On market volatility she agreed it was increasing, but felt the industry needed to address it, with industry structures changing and the supply chain working together more effectively.
She was committed to protecting farmland, as part of the nation’s economic strength, and was pleased to announce flood prevention dredging in Somerset, and further afield, had completed on schedule. Planning regulations would help safeguard agricultural productivity, she added.
As to the RPA’s move to a digital regime, she felt new chief executive Mark Grimshaw would deliver a robust system, with extra support for the 30% of claimants yet to move on-line. “What we want is quick payments, and to avoid the huge fines we had last time for failing to comply with EU payment targets.”
Red tape busting continued. “25% of all government regulations are in Defra, which shows how heavily regulated the industry is. So I am pleased to have specific details [where there are problems] and information about what other countries are doing.”
On first showing Liz Truss proved to be an engaging minister, willing to hear the industry’s concerns, and vigorously Euro-sceptic. Whether the charming smile and listening ear persist remains to be seen. Let us hope so.
“25% of all government regulations are in Defra, which shows how heavily regulated the industry is.”
www.thefarmersclub.com • 07
Ben Turner • Land values
Are investors changing farming? WITH winter upon us, and most farm properties to be sold this year now launched, agents and commentators are starting to draw lessons from the year’s market activity.
Ben Taylor – Partner, Bidwells Land & Business, Cambridge Office ben.taylor@bidwells. co.uk
So, has anything really changed? In their Rural Land Market Survey for the first half of 2014 the RICS report that national demand for farmland continues to outpace supply; the survey's transactionbased measure of farmland prices quotes an increase of 3% over the course of the first half of 2014; a figure quoted by several other national agents in indices covering a similar period. In short, the price of good quality farmland has continued to rise and has remained in limited supply. This has broadly been the case for over half a decade now. On the face of it then, the answer appears to be not much has changed. However, whilst land values look likely to generally sustain (despite the recent dip in commodity prices), the profile of active purchasers has been rather less predictable, and this is perhaps where things are beginning to shift. Usually, when a block of good arable land becomes available it engenders much interest and strong bidding amongst those with property in the area, on the back of ‘marriage value’ (the marginal costings argument) and ‘scarcity’ (the fear that such an opportunity may not come around again for generations). Ultimately, the successful party will be whoever has the greatest will and ability to perform. With banks still keen to lend to farming businesses, this has normally been a neighbour, particularly for a few hundred acres (or less). A previous association with the locale (or farming per se) is not a pre-requisite. Competition is frequently diverse – in terms of bidder location and background – when large (1,000 acre plus) commercial equipped farms become available.
‘Outside’ buyers are increasingly attracted to UK farmland. Long term investors (who have both the financial firepower and long-term horizons for investing in farmland) are becoming more bold – and successful – at the top end of the market. The sale of the Co-operative Farms Portfolio to the Wellcome Trust (Bidwells acted for the purchaser) created headlines and was seen as a significant event in the UK land market. But non-farming purchasers buying land is not new (the Co-op were first doing this 100 years ago). Nonetheless, this is an emphatic and contemporary illustration of how commercial farming in the UK is seen as an attractive and sustainable investment class. In this case the purchaser acquired not only the property but the business assets too – a further sign that key financial players are looking to 'buy in' to UK farming, and not just in the form of a landlord and tenant arrangement. Investors are potentially taking a more active role in nurturing and managing their acquisitions. • Ben Turner, Bidwells
Investor revolution In 2013 the RICS reported that private and institutional buyers comprised about 24% of the market. On the back of the Co-operative Farms deal (and others) that figure will clearly rise this year. But the amount of land traded was just 0.25% of the total area in 2013. In other countries up to 4% is traded each year. So, whilst potentially exciting and positive for those within the industry, the 'investor revolution' may take time to truly evolve.
08 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Conservation • Charles Abel
Ashley Cooper – Silver Lapwing Award winner 2014: “I hate leaving the farm, but when I do I often stay at The Farmers Club to enjoy a weekend of museums, art galleries and theatres, before returning, refreshed, to the beauty of the Essex-Suffolk border.”
FARMERS Club member Ashley Cooper, crowned 2014 winner of the prestigious FWAG Silver Lapwing Award for farming and conservation, has a phenomenal passion for farming and wildlife – and for sharing that passion with the next generation. The FWAG Silver Lapwing Award – run by the FWAG (Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group) Association, supported by Waitrose, and now in its 37th year – rewards species and habitat conservation integrated within an overall farming business, with a keen eye on soil and water management and efficient use of resources, including energy.
Tree planting also features prominently. “People say that if you plant a wood you won't live long enough to enjoy it. That's nonsense. Trees actually grow quite quickly when they are young. Within a very few years new plantations develop their own visual identity and interest.”
“I've spent thousands and thousands of hours tractor-driving – spraying, drilling and combining – but it has enabled me to do things about which I am passionate: researching the farm’s history and transforming it visually and ecologically,” he says.
Wiggery Wood, a 5.5ha ancient semi-natural woodland was extended by 3ha under HLS, and other small woods have been planted, and hedgerows restored and cut sympathetically.
The 281ha Hill Farm at Gestingthorpe grows winter wheat, barley, beans and oilseed rape in the Belchamp Brook valley in Essex. Careful management, supported by FWAG, has created a farm rich in wildlife, and a very popular educational centre too.
Cricket-bat willow plantations beside Belchamp Brook have been opened up where trees were lost to watermark disease, creating a series of new ponds for aquatic invertebrates and amphibians. Belchamp Brook Valley Marsh supports pepper saxifrage, twayblade and lady's smock.
Soils ranging from London clay through chalk outcrops to sand, provide the opportunity to experiment with different high value environmental management options, including:
A Roman settlement discovered on the farm is now a scheduled monument and a spectacular museum of 'finds', including tools, coins, jewellery, keys and pottery, helps draw school groups and interested parties. Indeed, educational access has long been a priority, with a purpose-built classroom now used to show how food is grown and the countryside enhanced.
• 20ha of extended stubbles rotated across the farm to improve overwinter soil stability, reduce reliance on chemicals for blackgrass control, and increase habitats for skylarks and farm wildlife • 11.23ha of floristically enhanced margins created and enhanced using novel techniques • 9.8ha of floristically enhanced field corners • 8ha of nectar flower rich areas • 1ha of cultivated fallow plot for arable plants • 2.5ha of summer fallow for lapwing nesting • 6ha of enhanced wildbird seed mixtures
“I went to my first FWAG meeting thirty nine years ago. Every year I now see more and more benefits flowing through, as schemes embarked on decades ago reach maturity,” Mr Cooper concludes.
www.thefarmersclub.com • 09
Charles Abel • Workforce
Talent development British farming needs new blood and new skills, and nowhere is that more so than in the agronomy sector, where Agrovista operates a dedicated development programme
“The evolution British farm businesses are going through will bring risks and rewards, the impacts of which will inevitably be felt by advising agronomists.”
THE need for British farmers to serve new and evolving markets has never offered more opportunity, be it serving the food, energy, leisure or commodity markets. Agriculture has become a good career prospect, with many graduates looking to the industry for their future. In such an attractive and well-supplied market employers are increasingly needing to offer detailed programmes to entice the best recruits, and ensure they continue to be equipped with the skills to meet the industry’s fast-changing needs. “The evolution British farm businesses are going through will bring risks and rewards, the impacts of which will inevitably be felt by advising agronomists,” says Nick Rainsley, head of marketing at Agrovista, a company that employs 290 people in the UK, over 150 of which are agronomists. “Already cross-compliance and an increased focus on the industry from new end-markets are requiring additional skills and knowledge from farm advisers; and this comes at a time when the agronomist’s role is already a busy one.” While field-walking remains the heart of an agronomist’s job, it also has a bearing on the time that can be invested in acquiring new knowledge or skills, to keep up with the times. “We recognise this issue within our business and we allocate time for on-going training of staff in additional technical and business skills – be that in combinable crops, amenity, fruit, vegetables, energy crops, precision farming, crop telemetry, organic crops or farm business consultancy.” Each year Agrovista recruits a group of trainee agronomists to help grow the business, which already accounts for over 20% of UK crop protection product sales. “Seven new recruits began their training this autumn, and we’re already looking for our 2015 intake,” explains head of human resources Tracey Winson.
Academy programme Trainees benefit from Agrovista’s Academy programme, which commenced in 2011. It provides the necessary expertise to become fully-fledged agronomists, with their own customer base after a two-year programme.
10 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
“Our Academy provides comprehensive training, both on the job and in the field, supported by professional training and the development of commercial skills,” says Ms Winson. “But the Academy offers much more than initial training. It provides a framework of learning to help all Agrovista staff continue to develop their key skills and behaviours, at the pace they choose, throughout their career.” Agronomy teams from all sectors have access to ongoing professional, technical and commercial training, and support, distribution and admin teams have similar opportunities.
Ideas sharing “It’s a diverse offering, encouraging ideas sharing and to maximise career progression,” she continues. “As well as helping develop core skills it can offer specialist training, such as management development and accounting qualifications, and help people specialise in certain areas, for example seed, telemetry, precision farming or biodiversity. “Some people are more academically driven, others are more practical. The Academy’s flexible programme caters for all, allowing all staff to develop using off-site courses and work-based learning, including tailored external courses,” says Ms Winson. “This is good for them and good for our business, helping staff pursue their preferred career path and ensuring our teams have the most relevant and up-to-date skills that are the cornerstone of our business success.” Unlike competitors Agrovista is based on share capital, not venture capital, notes Mr Rainsley. “That gives us the flexibility to re-invest rather than take profit, and our parent company Marubeni has a commitment for the long-term. Our core areas of continued investment are our people, R&D, IT and logistics – all of which benefit every employee in our business and every customer.” The future for British farmers is rapidly changing, he continues, with potentially huge rewards. “But to succeed we all need to move with the times. If you are looking for opportunity in a business growing for the future; Agrovista may be worth a call.”
Workforce • Charles Abel
Opportunities abound for new recruits to agriculture – but securing the right on-the-job training is more important than ever.
Last year 120 candidates applied for 7 new recruit positions.
Main picture: Participants in Agrovista’s trainee programme have gone on to occupy senior positions within the business, including head of marketing, head of buying, head of precision services and several regional managers.
Trainee programme Like all trainees, candidates for next year’s intake will need to be self-motivated, able to work on their own initiative, demonstrate commercial awareness, and have a flexible approach to working in an industry so influenced by the seasons. “It’s pretty competitive – last year we had over 120 applications for seven positions,” comments Ms Winson First year training includes technical skills development though BASIS and a series of inhouse workshops, job shadowing and training events; business development; relationship management and introduces the concept of continuous personal development. Year two builds on this and includes post-BASIS technical skills development at company trial sites; soil and nutrition management planning; job shadowing continues and trainees develop individual training plans to ensure they achieve their personal career objectives, supported by their mentor, local team and regional manager. Graduates with some experience of agriculture are preferred, but not exclusively. “We believe in recruiting from a wide range of backgrounds to encourage the new concepts, fresh thinking and innovation that are at the forefront of our business.” • www.agrovista.co.uk
www.thefarmersclub.com • 11
Charles Abel • UK FARMING
IFAJ Above: Meeting the needs of the public before asking them to make purchasing decisions is essential, says Cotswold Farm Park’s Kate Lord.
Farm journalists from around the world came to the UK, and The Farmers Club, for their 2014 international congress, which included fascinating visits to Adam Henson’s farm park and Prince Charles’ Highgrove Estate. Charles Abel reports
EVERYONE knows Adam Henson – star of BBC 1’s phenomenally popular Countryfile show. But what is the key to attracting a peak time TV audience of up to 9m and more than 100,000 visitors a year to his Cotswold Farm Park? Adam’s farm park manager, Kate Lord, knows better than most. A graduate of Harper Adams University College and the Worshipful Company of Farmers Leadership course she has little doubt that addressing the public’s needs first is paramount. “Adam’s goal is to change the way people shop. But that won’t happen without several key steps first.” It’s a lesson that works for the farm park, and for BBC’s Countryfile, a programme which, ironically, Adam only became involved with when foot-andmouth nearly caused the farm park to fold in 2001. “People need to feel safe, comfortable and understood if they are going to have a good day out. They then need to have an adventure, so we use social media and notice-boards around the park to convey the excitement. Then comes the ‘edutainment’ – drawing the ‘I never knew that’ response – backed by the passion of our staff, which is contagious. Only then do they come through the shop, transformed, and ready to buy.” Too many farm parks fail to address those key steps, she contends. The same could be said for much of farming’s produce marketing. “From being nervous about buying meat when they have just been stroking piglets, we now have a situation where
12 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Hands-on interaction with livestock is essential – and manageable with the right hygiene facilities and advice.
sausages are the best seller in the shop and piglets are the favourite animals in the park.” Hands-on contact with animals is encouraged. “We have not shied away from it, but work closely with the National Farm Attractions Network to follow an approved code of practise.” That includes segregated animal petting areas, bunded pens to prevent effluent seepage and lots of handwashing areas, with video guidance. “It makes it a manageable risk.” All livestock on show is healthy and up to show standard. “But we don’t conceal the realities, including still births and all the gore of lambing, for example. Being honest, and sharing the emotions, is so important. The public love it and come back time and again.”
UK FARMING • Charles Abel
Duchy sustainability As UK farming strives to be more sustainable Prince Charles’ Duchy Home Farm in Gloucestershire offers thirty years of in-field evaluation worth far wider consideration. The 450ha estate, plus a further 320ha farmed on contract, is all organic. But not for organic’s sake. The aim is to investigate sustainable farming. Organic may just be a stepping stone, farm manager David Wilson acknowledges. The farm is fully commercial, paying a £278/ha rent to the Duchy. But it has also been free from fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and artificial fertiliser for 30 years. “It is an experiment that shows ruminants are needed to make it work, but ruminants on grass, not concentrates, to help build soil organic matter,” Mr Wilson explains. “Whilst yields are generally lower, we need to look at sustainability in its broadest sense,” he adds. Do lower cereal yields matter, if less cereal is needed for livestock rations, because more is produced from grazed grass? “I would hate to give up meat, but eating better quality meat less often may be the way forward.”
Highbury’s Ayrshire dairy cows average 6,300litres/year at 4% fat and 3.4% protein, with sales through OMSCO to Waitrose and Duchy Originals securing a healthy organic premium.
IFAJ and The Farmers Club
Producing cheese may help command a better share of retail values in the future. But moving the milk-from-grass ratio from today’s 66% to 75% is the immediate goal. The seven year rotation is dominated by a very carefully managed three year grass/clover ley, the farm’s powerhouse, delivering 300kgN/ha via nitrogen fixation. Cereals and oilseeds get no further N, so keeping as much in the system as possible is essential, using composted manure and over-winter cover-crops, often under-sown into preceding cereals for the best effect. Significantly, Highbury’s 180 Ayrshire milking cows have a 6-7 lactation life, compared with a 2.7 UK average and below two in the USA. Selecting for longevity, and not being obsessed with milk yield, is key. “We’re all on a journey towards sustainability, with every farm incrementally striving to be more sustainable. Highgrove really is a great example of what can be done,” Mr Wilson concludes.
The Farmers Club hosted the International Guild of Agricultural Journalists pre-congress tour, which visited a City farm, Smithfield market and Leckford Estate. The rooms and stunning terrace overlooking the River Thames attracted great praise. “The views were amazing,” commented Yuko Sekine of Japan's Food Journalist Association. “Being able to stay right in the heart of London was so special,” added Dr Helmut Nieder of Germany's equivalent to our LEAF. The main congress was based in Aberdeen, while the post-congress tour visited Gloucestershire, Shropshire and Wales.
Acquiring much of the Brogdale collection of fruit trees and veg varieties is another Highgrove initiative.
Sustainably profitable milk production with zero artificial fertiliser is a major achievement at Highbury, which is managed by David Wilson (inset above). www.thefarmersclub.com • 13
Charles Abel • Commodity Markets
SOMETHING strange happened in agricultural commodity markets in recent years, and the reasons for it have profound implications, a leading economist contends.
Speculation versus innovation
“Twice we had a dramatic increase in the price of maize, wheat, rice and soya,” says Prof Ingo Pies, Chair of Economic Ethics at Germany’s Martin-LutherUniversity in Halle-Wittenberg. Without proper scrutiny of the causes profoundly wrong policy responses could follow.
Do commodity speculators damage markets? Can innovation feed the world? Charles Abel relays the views of a leading European economist
“So we ask ourselves, who was responsible? Society organisations blame speculators, especially the index [tracking] funds and derivatives markets. Widespread calls for a ban on speculation in food commodity markets seemed ethically justified. Who would say the interests of financial investors should outweigh those of poor third world city dwellers?”
"High prices for agricultural commodities are not new in history,” Prof Pies notes. “The 1789 French Revolution wasn't only opposing the Ancienne Regime, but also bread prices. The same happened in the European revolutions of the mid-19th Century. In 2008 food revolts were widespread in third world countries, and in 2011 they led to the Arab Spring and the downfall of Hosni Mubarak.
But that misses the point. “Index funds [especially passive long-term tracking funds] and derivative markets are not bad. They do not trade physical goods, but the price risks of the materials. They are an insurance market and something we need, a favourable service.” Indeed, if speculation was the cause for a price bubble, it would be associated with high stocks, as farmers, seeing futures prices rising, reacted not by selling, but by storing. “In 10,000 years of agricultural society we have never managed to develop a technology for the farmer to produce a future volume from the current volume – apart from storage – it is the only way. So stocks increase.” But in 2008 and 2011 stocks were practically empty. “The price rises weren’t caused by a virtual bubble, but an actual cause,” Prof Pies explains. Normally, the negative shocks of a poor harvest cause a small price rise, which is buffered by stocks. But if stocks are low, or empty, there is nothing to buffer the shocks and steep price rises follow, creating a “steep, dynamic, non-linear price rise”. Detailed studies show the 2008 and 2011 price spikes were initiated by ongoing growth in emerging economies, local harvest failures and policy failures, including export embargoes and panic imports, reinforced by efforts to subsidize bio-energy (Figure 1 right).
Left: Prof Ingo Pies, Chair of Economic Ethics, Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. 14 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
As growing economic demand and poor harvests pushed prices higher, India and Russia responded with highly controversial protectionist export bans. Those triggered panic on the markets, infecting the
Commodity Markets • Charles Abel
governments of importing countries, which tried to import more than usual, trying to buy five or six months ahead, instead of two or three, thus exacerbating the problem.
In the Twentieth Century the world population trebled, yet average agricultural commodity prices declined by an average of 0.9% per year, because supplies rose faster than demand (Figure 2 below).
Such policy failures, with exporters reducing their offer, and importers increasing their demand, are estimated to be responsible for 45% of the rice price spike in 2008, for example “Nothing to do with speculation,” Prof Pies notes.
Four key things boost output – the area farmed, irrigation, fertiliser and technical innovation. In the 1960s fertilisers drove the green revolution. The same applied in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s the fall of the Iron Curtain brought innovation to new areas, increasing production significantly.
“I conclude that the civil society organisation alarm bell was false, because speculation was not to blame. Soaring prices were not made by the finance world, but by the real economy.” Other economists agreed, and an open letter was written to explain the true causes, and how wrong it was to blame the wrong people. That could bring perverse consequences – banning the wrong thing [useful derivatives and futures trading], and not doing the right thing [addressing policy failings]. Meanwhile, demand from a soaring global population continues to grow. The good news is that technology will probably ensure that demand is met.
“If there are going to be 4bn more people, feeding them will only be possible if we increase the commodities on offer, and that is only possible if we increase technical innovation. Increasing water use, fertiliser supply or the area farmed is not possible, because those are defined by ecological limitations,” Prof Pies says. “Therefore, the golden path is to sustainably increase the technology used, and that must be based on increasing the supply of know-how. The most important contribution to reduce famine is knowledge, and that is built inside our heads. That is how we seed the future!”
Article based on an address by Prof Pies to an audience of 850 global farming experts at the biennial development meeting of Austrian tillage and grassland machinery maker Pottinger. See www.thefarmers club.com/library for full research paper.
Figure 1: The Impact of the Real Economy on Agricultural Prices, 2002 to 2011
Figure 2: Real Food Prices Decreased Since 1900 Despite of an Increasing Global Population, 1900-2010
www.thefarmersclub.com • 15
Mark Yearsley • Anaerobic digestion
On-farm anaerobic digestion – the US experience Mark Yearsley of Reaseheath College used a Farmers Club Charitable Trust Agricultural Educator Award to compare anaerobic digestion in the UK and the USA
TRAVELLING around eight anaerobic digester sites in the UK and eight in Wisconsin, USA it soon became clear that there were substantial differences in the way onfarm units have been integrated into farm businesses and why such enterprises were embarked upon. Whilst the primary reason for installing AD plants in the UK is to produce renewable energy to reap feedin tariff revenues, farms in the USA focused more on reducing their carbon footprint and using renewable energy on-site. In the UK there is a split between commercial and cost-saving reasons for installing AD, with most on-farm plants pursuing the commercial route to generate extra income. Big investment means maximising gas production from high-calorific feeds. A number of units I visited in the UK were existing chicken producers or arable farmers that were investing in broiler units with AD. The logic was simple – the broiler market is pretty stable currently, with a fairly good return, low labour inputs and ease of management. Chicken litter has a high calorific value, but is high in nitrogen, which hinders digestion, so to aid digestion the litter is ideally mixed with maize and fodder beet grown in an arable rotation. Electricity is sold to the grid, excess heat used in broiler sheds and bio-fertilizer applied to the land, cutting artificial fertilizer use. Digester design has a big influence on these farms, with a trend for a semi plug flow, to maximise digestate retention time, to extract all gas before leaving the digester.
16 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
The other end of the scale are small on-farm digesters using home-produced animal manures to produce biogas for use on the farm, such as through a conventional boiler to heat water for washing milking equipment and providing “free heat” for cooking and heating in the home. The concept of small scale AD on livestock farms has yet to be fully tapped. But the benefits are tremendous. Slurry-based low-capital digesters could cut energy costs and provide a bio-fertiliser to reduce the costs of bought in fertilisers and Marches Biogas has designed such a digester (see pic bottom right). Constructed in the factory and delivered on the back of a lorry it is ready to be placed on a concrete pad or below ground level. The design aims to provide a simple robust solution for an on-farm slurry based installation, with a cylindrical glass-reinforced plastic insulated tank, an internal heat exchanger and gas injection mixing.
Wisconsin Visit. In Wisconsin dairy farmers are focusing on the “Simple Approach” to AD, but on a much larger scale. Their incentive is that they are paid for the power they produce via carbon credits, rather than feed-in tariffs. With no incentive to sell power to the power companies, it is mainly used on-farm. Digesters run on all cattle slurry, with large-scale dairies (3000 head+) producing enough biogas to run a 500 kilowatt combined heat and power unit
Anaerobic digestion • Mark Yearsley
Liquid Digestate Storage Lagoon at Central Sands Dairy, Wisconsin.
Semi Plug Flow digester at Holsum Dairies, Wisconsin.
Food waste tank prior to feeding digesters Dane County Municipal AD Plant.
Buffer tanks holding imported slurry, second tank is sealed to capture any gas released naturally – Dane County Municipal AD Plant.
One of the 500W CHP units with heat exchanger.
Slurry comes from 3000 head-plus dairy farms.
Semi Plug Flow AD unit with concrete lid and gas holder.
(CHP). These farms were milking for 22 hours a day, so CHPs were serviced during the rest time. Digester design was a simple underground continual flow reactor (CFR), using a concrete channel configuration over a 500 square meter area, with heating pipes and gas injection along the bottom of the channel and a concrete insulated lid. Slurry flowed in one end and took about 20 days to exit for separation, with liquor held in large lined lagoons for irrigating land, while fibre is dried with excess CHP heat and reused as bedding. In Dane County a municipal installation set up by Clear Horizons was based between four dairy farms providing slurry via underground mains. The slurry was mixed with food waste which had already been processed into a semi-solid soup and fed at a rate of one part food waste to two parts slurry into two continuous stirring reactors (CSTRs), which fed two 500kW CHP units supplying power to the grid. No money changed hands between the farmers and Clear Horizons – farms received a valuable separated bio-fertilizer and dried fibre for bedding. “Everyone is a winner”.
Conclusions There is clearly great potential for low-cost slurry-based installations to cut energy and bought-in fertiliser costs on UK livestock farms. More generally, by investing together as co-operatives, farmers could use livestock waste and imported feed-stocks to generate extra income.
Recycling the separated solids from digestate for bedding cubicles – Holsum Dairies, Wisconsin.
Marches Biogas Plug and Play Digester suits smaller livestock operations.
Slurry-based energy Typically 1 cubic meter of cattle slurry at 11% dry matter will produce 35 cubic meters of biogas. That is a fairly low yield, since slurry is the by-product of feed being fermented in the cow’s rumen. But whilst slurry is low in biogas production it contains the right bugs to breakdown feed to produce biogas, so higher energy feeds can be added to boost gas production. With landfill of food waste coming to an end there is potential for dairy farm digesters to use such waste with slurry to be commercially viable. Local councils need to invest in depackaging and pasteurisation plants to provide a uniform product that can be transported to on-farm AD sites.
Mark Yearsley Farm Manager Reaseheath College e-mail: email@example.com www.reaseheath.ac.uk 01270 613240 07772 861098
Finally, it is clear that renewable energy is part of our future, so it’s important to educate the public and the next farming generation about its potential.
www.thefarmersclub.com • 17
Liz Pexton • Beethoven Concert
Farming Figures A quick look at… the rapid growth of renewable energy… told through some key statistics
22.7% Renewable energy’s share of global power production (2012), up from 18.7% in 2000
10.8% Nuclear energy’s share of world power production, down from 17.6% peak in 1996
Renewable contribution to UK energy consumption, up from 4.2% in 2012
19.7 gigawatts Renewable electricity generation in UK (2013), up 27% on 2012 (biomass +67%, solar +59%, wind +27% onshore / +23% off-shore)
375 gigawatts Peak global nuclear power capacity (2010)
460 gigawatts Global wind and solar capacity in 2013
$80 billion Annual investment in solar and wind projects 2000-2013, ten times more than nuclear
85 nations Countries with commercial wind turbine installations; 31 with nuclear reactors
$295 billion Global nuclear R&D spend 40 years to 2012 (51% of all); $59bn for renewables (10% of all)
18 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Stunning Beethoven concert IN late September a group of very fortunate Farmers Club members enjoyed a delicious two-course supper in the Eastwood Room before boarding a coach to the Royal Albert Hall for what proved to be a truly enchanting evening. The sell-out performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was simply outstanding. It started with a recital of Emperor Piano Concerto No 5 with guest pianist Teo Gheorghiu. Only 22 years old, and with an impressive tally of performances and recordings already in his portfolio, it made one wonder just how far he is going to go; a magical recital. The orchestra for the evening was the acclaimed Royal Philharmonic, joined by the London-based Philharmonia Chorus for the Ninth Symphony, and all under the baton of guest conductor Christopher WarrenGreen, currently Musical Director of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in the USA. The sheer energy required to guide a large orchestra and chorus through the 70 minutes of this dramatic piece was palpable.
The final movement, which includes Schiller’s wonderful Ode to Joy (guaranteed to gladden every Europhile’s heart) was so tremendously powerful there seemed to be a stunned silence between the final chord and the audience rising to show their appreciation, in a long and well-deserved standing ovation. By the time Beethoven completed his Ninth (and final) symphony, he was already profoundly deaf. It is moving to reflect on the tremendous pleasure he has given to generations of music lovers with his composition of wonderful music which he could never hear. We would have happily stayed for more, but the coach was waiting to take us back to the Farmers Club for a nightcap. Many thanks to Lisbeth Rune for organising and looking after us all for what was a truly memorable evening, made all the more enjoyable by the company of fellow members and the wonderful organisation of every aspect of the evening by the Club. Just one thing… please can we go again? • Liz Pexton
Farming Art • Charles Abel
By-gone farming celebrated
Oliver Trowell (right), Richard Beaugie (left) and Adam Henson of BBC Countryfile auction a copy of ‘Before the Combines Came’ for £300 at Kent County Showground in aid of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.
In Before the Combines Came Oliver records in great detail just how farm tasks were carried out before mechanisation arrived. Working with horses, hand milking cows, dipping sheep, stack building and thatching, digging ditches and the myriad other aspects of scratching a living from the land in the years before and during the war are all depicted.
TWO fascinating books recording a by-gone era of farming have been published, capturing evocative images and the hand-written words of Oliver Trowell, a farm worker, artist and teacher who relays his vivid memories of rural life in the 1930s and 1940s. Oliver, now in his eighties, wrote the spell-binding text for Rural Metamorphosis in 1957 and more recently penned Before the Combines Came, in a bid to capture forever the intricacies of farming and rural life in a time now long past.
This is a chronicle of rural life in an area and age of hazy but not lazy summer days, cold winters when only work kept you warm, and evenings when entertainment was all home grown.
“The books certainly take me back to being an eight year-old on a farm in Shropshire...” Club member Dr Dick Esslemont
The books can be ordered on-line from Richard Beaugie’s Manor Farm Publishing at www.manorfarmpublishing.co.uk/contact.html • Video footage at: http://vimeo.com/90331200
Born in London in 1927, he moved to Brabourne in Kent aged seven, and spent his most impressionable years working on the land. Aged 21 he decided to train as an artist and teacher of art and pursued a career split between working as a freelance artist and teaching. The books, illustrated with his own beautiful paintings and drawings, tell a story anyone in agriculture will enjoy. Those over 60 will recollect such times, while younger agriculturalists will learn about their heritage, says Club member Dr Dick Esslemont from Dorset. “The books were spotted recently by Richard Beaugie, a farmer from Shadoxhurst, Kent and a student of Oliver's, who was keen for more people to have the chance to re-live their early days on a farm. They certainly take me back to being an eight year-old on a farm in Shropshire where I spent many happy days, some of them ‘bumping’ thistles....” he reflects.
Selected images from ‘Before the Combines Came’ – 189 pages with 94 watercolour illustrations. www.thefarmersclub.com • 19
Beth Hockham, Chairman; John Jacques, Vice Chairman; Lisbeth Rune, Secretary • U30s
U30s Chairman’s Jottings As I write I have just returned from the U30s Autumn Farm Walk in Cirencester. We had a wonderful time visiting Duchy Home Farm at Tetbury and clay shooting at Old Down Pursuits, followed by an evening at The Royal Agricultural University, where we enjoyed a three course black tie dinner.
Evolution Farming has grown into a thriving business consultancy focusing on the dairy sector.
We finished the weekend by being given a tour of the Royal Agricultural University Beagles kennels by U30s Vice Chairman John Jacques. A thoroughly good time was had by all and a full write up of the weekend including photographs will appear in the next edition of the Journal. The next U30s event is the November Dining Evening to be held on Friday 28th November. We will be joined by guest speaker Caroline Drummond, who is Chief Executive at Linking Environment and Farming. You can book for this event either though the Farmers Club website (click on the tab ‘book events on-line’) or by e-mailing Lisbeth Rune firstname.lastname@example.org I was honoured to do a reading at the Club’s Harvest Festival service at Saint-Martin-in-theFields, and also carry a basket of wonderful produce, which the Chef at the Club put together. It was great to see so many U30s members at this event. The date for the U30s New Members Dinner & Winter Event is confirmed for 6th-8th February 2015. Don’t forget to put this in your diaries! The weekend will include a white tie dinner at the Club, a theatre trip and a dinner at another venue in London (to be confirmed). As a reminder, don’t forget to visit the Farmers Club U30s Facebook page for up to date information on the U30s events. If you have any questions about the U30s, or any suggestions or comments, please do contact me.
Contact Beth for more information Beth Hockham U30 Chairman 07773 232264 email@example.com www.thefarmersclubu30s.com
20 • The Farmers Club Winter Journal 2014
Evolution Farming On Friday 12th September, with harvest nearing its end, the U30s met for their annual September Dining Evening. For those able to leave the farm it was another super sold-out event, filled with the loud hum of discussion between new and old faces, all over a delicious pork dinner prepared by the Chef and his team. Guest speaker for the evening was Tom Rawson, director and co-founder of Evolution Farming, who took us through his experiences and the key business decisions that enabled him to develop a thriving farm consultancy business. Tom’s journey started when he graduated from Harper Adams and began working on his parent's farm milking fifty cows. Following the motto ‘do what you know best’, he left the milk processing side of the business to his parents, and instead focused on gaining efficiencies by renovating processes and improving grazing and forage quality. Within 11 years he had built the farm up to 300 organic cows and started using his accumulated knowledge to provide advice to other dairy farmers. Ultimately, this led to the creation of dairy consultancy business Evolution
Farming in 2010 – with a strapline of ‘driving profit through innovation’. Tom highlighted that other experiences had assisted his personal development, including a Nuffield Scholarship in 2005 and being runner up in the Dairy Farmer of the Future and Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year competitions, which helped him gain new experiences, understand business marketing techniques and most importantly develop contacts. He has represented the dairy industry on many fronts, including NFU, BGS and OMSCo, and is now a board member for DairyCo. Tom described how Evolution Farming (www.evolutionfarming.co.uk) works and the logic behind some potential future business strategies. He also let us in on several industry secrets, including how to know which cows belong to whom in a field where the animals have multiple owners. The secret is safe with us! Thank you once again Tom for your highly insightful and interesting speech. In true U30s style the evening moved into the Bar, and then local haunt 'Opal' for a spot of dancing. • Charlotte Harris
U30s • Beth Hockham, Chairman; John Jacques, Vice Chairman; Lisbeth Rune, Secretary
Maximising the value of farmland and associated buildings is a fine art, with plenty of opportunities to add value through simple actions.
If any U30s members would be interested in writing an article for the Journal do please get in touch. Submissions are always very welcome – addressing any topical issue, business venture or farming insight.
Manage the mundane and seize opportunities
Contact Beth Hockham, Chairman U30s, overcoombe@ hotmail.com or call 07773 232264
Whether you have a small farm, a rural business or a country estate, managing it day-to-day whilst trying to add value can be a minefield. Deciding when to spend money, and on what, can be difficult, says U30 member Louise Elliott Residential Assets With the principal house, it’s important to consider how you can save money on a daily basis. Research shows insulation, draught exclusion and a decent thermostat can save hundreds of pounds per year. In the longer term investing in a roof-mounted PV scheme can bring a 10-12% return on investment, whilst some homeowners can claim hefty subsidies for heating under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). With let cottages, a small makeover, including changes to the kitchen, bathroom and colour scheme can dramatically improve rental value. More substantial renovations can reap higher rents in popular locations, but a record of condition and meaty deposit are key to protecting that investment.
Amenity value Adding value through cosmetic improvements can be overlooked until it is decided to sell. In reality it’s important to plan these early. Judicious planting to screen neighbours or blights, concealing footpaths, maintaining the driveway and keeping hedges, fences, gateways and tracks in good order can really add value to a property (and save time, money and aggravation on a daily basis). Creating interesting features and improving the landscape by creating lakes and water features and breaking up landscapes with woodland planting has merit too.
losing money (as well as failing to cross-comply). Digging out ditches and investing in field drainage is worth the investment. Consider reviewing how you hold land and property; is it tax efficient, either now or for future generations? It’s often more tax efficient to farm land in-hand; so are there any opportunities to restructure farm tenancies? If these tenancies include residential properties, is there an opportunity to bring them back in-hand, renovate and let them at a market rent?
What about development opportunities? This Spring’s changes to Permitted Development rights have created more opportunities for those with agricultural buildings. The shortage of housing in the UK is seeing larger schemes gaining consent too. Try to identify any sites which could have potential for planning permission, whether converting traditional buildings (for staff, family members or residential lets) or pursuing new developments. But be mindful of protecting retained assets by screening and creating separate accesses. It’s also important to protect your property against encroachment and those trying to claim rights, be it possession or access. Ensuring your land and rights are registered with the Land Registry and submitting an S31 declaration will help.
Farming Take a walk to see how your land is looking. Do crops look healthy? Are boundaries well maintained? Such factors give an impression about your farm and how it’s being managed. Many farms have a muddy corner or ‘that one wet field’. Farmers know that’s
• Louise Elliott MRICS FAAV Under 30s member, chartered surveyor, Editor of Eventing Worldwide website and partner in family farm.
“Owners should regularly review their holdings and assess how they can add value and create income generation opportunities.”
www.thefarmersclub.com • 21
The Farmers Club • Club Information
Club Information 020 7930 3557 • www.thefarmersclub.com Office Holders Patron – Her Majesty The Queen HONORARY VICE PRESIDENTS Peter Jackson CBE, Sir David Naish DL VICE PRESIDENTS Mark Hudson, Roddy Loder-Symonds, John Parker, Norman Shaw CBE, Mrs Susan Kilpatrick OBE THE COMMITTEE OF MANAGEMENT OF THE CLUB 2014 PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN Jimmy McLean TRUSTEES Barclay Forrest OBE (Chairman), Mrs Nicki Quayle, Julian Sayers, Paul Heygate VICE-CHAIRMAN Anne Chamberlain HONORARY TREASURER Richard Butler IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN Stewart Houston CBE CHIEF EXECUTIVE AND SECRETARY Stephen Skinner CLUB CHAPLAIN The Reverend Sam Wells COMMITTEE Elected 2009: John Stones Elected 2012: Mrs Ionwen Lewis, Charles Notcutt OBE (Chairman – House Sub-Committee) Elected 2013: Lindsay Hargreaves, Tim Harvey, Nick Helme, George Jessel DL (Chairman – Communications Sub-Committee), Peter Jinman OBE, Mrs Jo Turnbull
Swan Lake On Friday 13th February the Club is visiting the Royal Opera House for Swan Lake – one of the most loved of all ballets – and we have reserved some of the very best seats in the house. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers. Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography, while dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, with glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé. Our programme starts at 5.00pm with a two-course supper in the Club, before departing at 6.30pm by coach for the Royal Opera House. The ballet runs from 7.30pm to 10.30pm (approx), after which the coach returns members to the Club. The event is limited to 40 places, each costing £187.00. If oversubscribed places will be decided by ballot. Apply online at www.thefarmersclub.com or complete the booking form enclosed with this issue. Applications should be received by 12th December.
Elected 2014: Robert Lasseter, Allan Stevenson, Alison Ritchie, Martin Taylor, Campbell Tweed OBE (Chairman – Membership Sub-Committee) Co-opted: Beth Hockham (Chairman Under 30s), John Jacques (Vice Chairman Under 30s), Martin Taylor THE FARMERS CLUB CHARITABLE TRUST TRUSTEES John Kerr MBE JP DL (Chairman), James Cross, Vic Croxson DL, Stephen Fletcher, Mrs Stella Muddiman JP, The Chairman and Immediate Past Chairman of the Club (ex officio)
Rubens and his Legacy On Friday 13th March the Club is to visit The Royal Academy of Arts for Rubens and His Legacy – set to be one of the biggest spectacles of 2015, providing an unprecedented opportunity to see masterpieces by Rubens side by side with the work of his artistic heirs.
NEXT ISSUE Watch out for your New Year issue of the Farmers Club Journal, due out in mid-January, with all the latest Club news, plus reports on RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton’s address to the Club at the House of Lords, a profile of new Club Chairman Anne Chamblerlain, a look at our reciprocal clubs around the world and details of the 2015 events calendar, which includes visits to Eire and Nottinghamshire. 22 • The Farmers Club WInter Journal 2014
Rubens, best known for his fleshy nude women, also embraced a broad array of subjects, from religious and mythological scenes to landscapes and portraits. We will see his influence in the prints of Picasso and Rembrandt, in the portraiture of Van Dyck, in the hunting scenes and devotional works of Delacroix, and in the landscapes of Constable and Gainsborough. Our programme starts at 12.00pm with a two-course lunch with wine in the Club. At 1.30pm we depart by coach for the Royal Academy of Arts. Members should make their own way home. The event is limited to 50 places, each costing £65. If oversubscribed places will be decided by ballot. Apply online at www.thefarmersclub.com or complete the booking form enclosed with this issue. Applications should be received by 12th December.
Club Information • The Farmers Club
Deaths It is with regret that we announce the death of the following members: Mr T Davis Radnorshire Mr P English Montgomeryshire Mr W Grant Lincolnshire Mr S Hall Cambridgeshire Mrs J Higgons Nottinghamshire Mr J Markham Australia Mr P Millson South Africa Mr W Strawson CBE Lincolnshire New Members The following were elected: UK Members Mr C Ashton Mrs C Batt The Earl C Cathcart Mr J Craig Mr T Davies Mrs D Dobson Mr S Fairchild Mr J Forbes Mr W Gibson Mr S Green Mrs K Hayhow Professor D Hopkins Mr A House Mr T Isaac Mr P Ivens Mr B Jones Mr R Jones-Perrott Mr P Lawson Mr P Machray OBE Mr K Mansfield Mrs G Mason Mr C May Mr T Mellor Mr P Mendoza Mrs G Messent Mr M Perry Mr D Richardson Mr P Sedgwick Mr R Thurlow
London Leicestershire Norfolk Renfrewshire Cumberland Yorkshire London Angus Surrey Fife Aberdeenshire West-Lothian Somerset Essex Buckinghamshire Carmarthenshire Montgomeryshire Lancashire Aberdeenshire Norfolk Nottinghamshire Northumberland Yorkshire Wiltshire Gloucestershire Somerset Yorkshire Berkshire Dumfriesshire
Mr H Wykes
Under 30s Mr G Chambers Mr H Driver Mr A Driver Miss N Hewer Mr J Janaway Miss E Kay Miss K Major Mr A Merrick Mr G Noad Mr J Tulloch
Gloucestershire Suffolk Suffolk Gloucestershire Hampshire Lancashire Kent Lincolnshire Gloucestershire Staffordshire
Whitehall Court Mr D Lewis Mr A Lin
Envelope Sponsorship The Farmers Club acknowledges the support of Agrovista, sponsor of the Journal envelope. Agrovista is the leading authority on all aspects of crop management advice, with many years of experience backed up with the most advanced and comprehensive range of agronomy trials in Great Britain. For more information visit www.agrovista.co.uk Mobile Phones, Briefcases and Business Meetings Mobile phones must not be used in the Public Rooms (except the Shaw Room). Briefcases should be left in the Cloakrooms and Business meetings must be conducted in the Shaw Room or designated and pre-booked meeting rooms. Members should speak with the Meetings Manager, Mrs Lynne Wilson for details on 020 7925 7100 or firstname.lastname@example.org Parking The Club has no private parking at Whitehall Court and metered parking in the immediate area is extremely limited. The nearest public car park, open 24 hours a day, is situated in Spring Gardens off Cockspur Street, approximately 5 minutes walk from the Club. Telephone: 0800 243 348. The Congestion Charge can be paid at this car park. For more information on parking see: www.westminster.gov.uk/services/transport andstreets/parking Business Suite The Business Suite provides PCs, printing and WiFi for members.
2015 Subscriptions The Committee has decided that the rates of subscription due on 01 January 2015 will be as follows: Annual Subscriptions Town Single £374.00 Town Family £406.00 Country Single £267.00 Country Family £300.00 Under 30 (26-29) Single £136.50 Family £150.50 Under 30 (18-25) Single £88.50 Family £101.00 Overseas Single £267.00 Overseas Family £300.00
Associate – Whitehall Court Single £374.00 Family £406.00 Associate – Forty Club Town Single £374.00 Town Family £406.00 Country Single £267.00 Country Family £300.00 Entrance Fees £280.00 for all categories except Under 30s
Life Membership Age Amount 31 – 36 £7800 36 – 41 £7160 41 – 46 £6500 46 – 51 £5740 51 – 56 £5150 56 – 61 £4450 61 – 66 £3580 66 – 71 £2720 Over 71 £1960
Club Contacts THE FARMERS CLUB Over 170 years of service to farming 3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL
Chairman 2014: Jimmy McLean
Chief Executive and Secretary: Stephen Skinner
Club Number 020 7930 3557 Reception ext: 200/201 email@example.com Bedroom Reservations ext: 204 firstname.lastname@example.org Restaurant Reservations ext: 200/201 email@example.com Conference & Banqueting ext: 109 or direct line: 020 7925 7100 firstname.lastname@example.org Events & U30s ext: 103 email@example.com Club Manager ext: 102 firstname.lastname@example.org Head Chef ext: 111 or direct line: 020 7925 7103 email@example.com Accounts ext: 106 or direct line: 020 7925 7101 firstname.lastname@example.org Membership ext: 107 or direct line: 020 7925 7102 email@example.com PA to Secretary ext: 104 or direct line: 020 7930 3751 firstname.lastname@example.org Bedrooms ext: 3+ [two digit room number] eg. ext 301 for Room1 Whitehall Court Porters 020 7930 3160 Fax 020 7839 7864 Website: www.thefarmersclub.com THE FARMERS CLUB JOURNAL Editor and Advertisement Manager: Charles Abel 07795 420692 E-mail: email@example.com Designed and produced by: Ingenious, www.ingeniousdesign.co.uk The printing inks are made using vegetable based oils. No film or film processing chemicals were used. Printed on Lumi Silk which is ISO 14001 certified manufacturer. FSC Mixed Credit. Elemental chlorine free (ECF) fibre sourced from well managed forests.
Members who have completed Direct Debit Mandates need take no action. www.thefarmersclub.com • 23
THE FARMERS CLUB
Christmas Card 2014
Members are invited to order this year’s Farmers Club Christmas Card, featuring this striking image “Northumberland Blackface Ewes near Hadrian’s Wall” photographed by Wayne Hutchinson. The card is printed with the Club crest and the greeting “With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year”.
Available in packs of 10 the cards can be bought at Reception or ordered from the General Office using the order form on page 17 of the Autumn Journal. Profits from card sales will support the R.A.B.I. of England, Wales and N. Ireland and the R.S.A.B.I. of Scotland.