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East of England Farming Conference aims to get farmers thinking outside the box

East of England Farming Conference 2016
. Picture: Tim Scrivener.

East of England Farming Conference 2016 . Picture: Tim Scrivener.

©Tim Scrivener

Growing “future-proof” farm businesses will be the focus of debate among industry leaders and inspiring farmers at this year’s East of England Farming Conference.

The event on November 2 at the East of England Showground in Peterborough will highlight innovative approaches and encourage resourcefulness under the theme of “Grow or Go”.

Thomas Beazley, chairman of the East of England Agricultural Society, said: “We are passionate about offering farmers in the East inspiration to drive their businesses forward in a sustainable way, ensuring our farming industry is fit and healthy in 2020 and beyond.”

Richard Whitlock, chairman of the conference organising committee, will chair the first session on post-2020 science, people and politics. Speakers include National Farmers’ Union (NFU) deputy president Minette Batters, Charles Shropshire of Cambs Farms Growers, UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew, and fellow Norfolk farmer Peter Melchett, policy director for the Soil Association.

Mr Whitlock said: “On the political front, we are living through challenging and uncertain times, with increasing requirements for farmers to demonstrate environmental benefits alongside food production. Farmers will have to be at the top of their game across the board – there is no room for second best in any sector.”

Tom Martin, who started a mixed farming business in Cambridgeshire after leaving a city job, will chair the second session, introducing “farmers with flair” including Andrew Blenkiron from the Euston Estate, near Thetford, and Frettenham dairy farmer and cheesemaker Emily Norton, who said: “Farmers need to think beyond subsidies – the status quo is over.

“We need to embrace change and realise the opportunities it presents, particularly in the way we finance our businesses. Securing external sources of funding and investment will be important if farmers are able to profit from innovation in the future.”

The final session, “Building the British Brand”, will be chaired by arable farmer Tom Bradshaw with speakers including Jake Freestone of the Overbury Estate and Colm McKay of British Sugar.

For tickets and information, visit the conference website.

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