JSR Conference Examines Range of Farming Issues

14 September 2012, at 7:17pm

UK - JSR held its annual conference at the University of York this week, with the theme 'Working Together for Greater Profit'. Senior editor, Jackie Linden, reports.

The one-day annual conference offered two 'firsts', explained JSR's Chairman, Tim Rymer, in his welcome speech to almost 150 invited delegates. He said that this was the first JSR Farming Conference, which follows a series of 22 previous Technical Conferences, a move that represents the growing scope of the event. Also, for the first time, the chosen location was the University of York in the company's home county of Yorkshire.

Starting off the proceedings, JSR's Managing Director, Grant Walling and Head of Science, Stephen Waite jointly addressed the topic 'Expect More through Utilising Technology', describing some of the techniques the company has been using to progress its business. Science can help to lead people and the industry, they said, highlighting the issues of the eating quality of supermarket pork and the current payment system.

'Producing pig meat for the market' was the subject of the presentation by John Godfrey, CBE, Chair of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. He described how pig production fits into his farming business and the difficulties created by adverse weather this year. He also stressed the importance of skills training in the pig industry.

All the way from Sweden, Erik Bengtsson outlined his pig meat business under the theme, 'Partners for Profit'. The owner of Karlsfält Gård has achieved considerable success in his business, which is selling premium beef, lamb and pork directly from his farm to stores and restaurants. He even exports high-quality bacon products to Denmark.

The Communications Director of market research organisation, Kantar Worldpanel, Edward Garner, spoke about the attitudes and behaviour of British shoppers to the purchasing of sustainable food. The generally difficult economic conditions appear not to have impacted the food industry as much as one might expect, he said. The overall picture is much more complex than simply consumers trading down.

And last but by no means least, Adam Henson described his 'Life of the Land'. Best known as a presenter on the BBC TV programme on farming and rural issues, 'Countryfile', he also runs an arable and sheep farm and manages Cotswold Farm Park, a farm open for visitors focussing on the maintenance of rare breeds as an attraction and to preserve the gene pool for coming generations.

JSR conference hosts and speakers. left to right: Edward Garner, Howard Petch (former Principle of Bishop Burton College), Stephen Waite, Dr Grant Walling, Erik Bengtsson, Tim Rymer, Adam Henson and John Godfrey