Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Minister to address conference on opportunities from Brexit

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under News & Business

Seizing opportunities from Brexit will be the focus of next month’s Norfolk Farming Conference – due to be held on Thursday 1 February at the John Innes Conference Centre, Norwich.

Defra minister George Eustice will be among the speakers at the event. He will address the outlook for farming as the UK prepares for the biggest change in British agricultural policy when it leaves the European Union in just 18 months time.

Brown & Co managing partner Charles Whitaker, who is a member of the conference organising committee, said the event would examine the opportunities for farmers to meet market demand while encouraging delegates to consider the “very serious” potential for disruption.

Future prospects

“Norfolk is a big agricultural and production county, and I think the famers here are taking this very seriously,” he said. “However, the cushion of the weaker pound and higher commodity prices may have taken some people’s focus off the impact.

“We’ve got a serious threat to the direct support we receive from government for farming – it’s going down, not up. And this will lead to the realisation that, as an industry, in some cases, we are effectively pushing water up hill to make a margin.”

Other speakers include Connor McVeigh, supply chain director for McDonalds. He will speak about how the global business is growing, how the trend could progress and the company’s plan to meet demand by working with UK farmers.

Mr Whitaker said: “We need to examine creating greater links and working together rather more than we currently do, and options such as sharing a farm, sharing resources, and pooling assets will come to the fore. As an industry we also need to be more closely aligned with our customers.”

Innovation in farming and the opportunities presented by agri-technology will be addressed by John Innes Centre director Dale Sanders and Agri-Tech East director Belinda Clarke. The spotlight will then shine on the next generation of farm business entrepreneurs and innovators.

Uncertainty

Fellow organising committee member Henry Edwards, of Hardingham Farms, added: “An advisor once told me that things you are worried about, very often turn out better than you fear. But since I started farming in 1961 there has never been a time when we have faced so much uncertainty.”

The conference, which is in its 15th year, also provides a platform for the 250 delegates to network with their peers. A range of farming and countryside organisations will be exhibiting at the venue. Sponsors include the AF Group, Brown & Co, Birketts and Lovewell Blake.

For details and to book your place, call 01603 881827 or visit www.norfolkfarmingconference.org.

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