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Farming for the future in the face of Brexit and climate change

Farmers who have succeeded in challenging times will top the bill at the annual Three Counties Farming Conference next month as guests look for inspiration during Brexit and the threats posed by climate change.

15 October 2019, at 12:03pm

It is a volatile and uncertain time to be a farmer and the landscape has never been more challenging. That’s why organisers at the Farming Conference have put resilience at the top of the agenda, with speakers giving tips and insight on how to future-proof your business.

Taking place on Thursday, 14 November, the annual one-day conference will focus on how farming can stand up in the face of upheaval and create solutions for a resilient base for now and the future.

a seminar at the three counties farming conference 2018

Chaired by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, this year’s evening debate will include speakers who provide expertise and experience in challenging farming circumstances.

John Wilesmith, Head of Operations at the Three Counties Farming Conference said: “This year we have speakers with first-hand experience of the challenges and how they have made mistakes and found the solutions. Their stories should provide inspiration and hope that a business can be turned around.

“The challenges that face farming are there for all to see, and to be able to hear from and debate these issues and solutions is a vital practice for those within farming.”

On the panel is organic dairy farmer Bryce Cunningham from Mossgiel Farm, Ayrshire. Bryce farms on the same land that Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns, once farmed and is passionate about farming in more traditional ways as Rabbie himself would have done.

Certified Organic since 2018, Mossgiel Farm is also the UK’s first single-use plastic-free dairy, is holistically managed and also uses a calf at foot system, with the girls sharing their creamy, non-homogenised milk with their calves until weaning.

Farming diversification will be the message from James Manning of Shack Events. Having grown up within a dairy family, James developed his interest in business through his father’s passion for cows and business.

Over the years the family business has changed considerably, eventually swapping cows for stadium bars and attempting to create a hybrid rural business which is fit for the future.

Other notable speakers include farmer Ali Capper who produces apples and hops in partnership with her husband Richard on their farm in Worcestershire and is the NFU’s Horticulture and Potatoes Board Chair. She has a specific interest seasonal labour, business at home, breaking into new markets, growing new varieties and about export.

George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenant Farmers Association will also be discussing the challenges facing tenant farmers and how they can find themselves a solution for the future.

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During the afternoon there will also be workshops and presentations from the Yellow Welly Farm Safety Campaign with Katie Hall, National Chairman of Young Farmers, as well as Nuffield Scholar Presentations on automated machinery in farming by Jonathan Gill, a qualified robotic engineer who has worked on the Hands Free Hectare at Harper Adams University; and technological advances in poultry farming with James Smaldon.