Brexit and the future of Lincolnshire Agriculture are hot topics at Lincolnshire Farming Conference

HUNDREDS of farmers, exhibitors and industry experts gathered at the Lincolnshire Showground’s Epic Centre last week (26 February) to discuss, debate and deliberate the future of agriculture.

Hosted by the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, this year’s Lincolnshire Farming Conference saw experts discuss the effects of Brexit and new initiatives such as ‘Facetime a Farmer’, as well as addressing the perceived failing of short-term land occupation, farming and human health and conservative agriculture.

As the society celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019 there was great debate around how far the industry had come and what the next 150 years would look like for the industry.

Charles Anyan, chairman of the Lincolnshire Farming Conference said: “The Lincolnshire Farming Conference is always an important gathering to get together, meet peers and hear from excellent speakers from outside the area who come to impart their knowledge. It’s a really invaluable, great event and is particularly special this year as the Lincolnshire Agricultural Society celebrates its 150th birthday.”

Gail Soutar, NFU chief EU withdrawal and international trade adviser, provided her expert insight on how farmers can navigate Brexit, and is responsible for developing NFU policy on international trade ensuring that opportunities arriving from future trading positions are realised and that the interests of British farming are protected.  

Gail said: “Brexit is really challenging in terms of how much uncertainty there is. The NFU Council has six principles on Brexit to help guide us through the Brexit landscape, which include avoid a no deal outcome, continue to have free trade with EU and take back greater control of the rules and regulations facing farm businesses.

“Other principles include continue to have access to the important seasonal and permanent workforce, ensure international trade agreements respect our domestic production standards and we would also like to see a new agricultural policy framework that supports farmers as food producers, improves productivity and resilience and properly rewards the delivery of public goods that British farmers deliver for British citizens.”

Key note speaker Dr David Hughes, emeritus professor of food marketing at Imperial College London and visiting professor at the Royal Agricultural University, UK spoke about turning global food trends into profitable opportunities for UK agriculture.

Live seminars, with a focus on health, were all featured as part of the exhibition morning. Sessions included ‘Growing a healthy business for the future’ with discussions from Brown & Co, Wilkin Chapman and HSBC, which shared useful hints and tips on protecting businesses from the threat of Fraud & Cyber Crime.

Healthy soils, healthy crops and healthy water were all discussed at the second session during the exhibition morning and included workshops from Farmacy Plc, University of Lincoln and Anglian Water.

The latest farming innovations, emerging technologies and initiatives were also presented by top industry experts, including farm manager Tom Martin, who pitched a new idea named ‘Facetime a Farmer.’

Aimed at children, the initiative looks to educate youngsters about the importance of agriculture through an interactive Facetime session with a farmer, for ten-minutes every fortnight.

Tom said: “Schools face a number of challenges - little time, low budget, curriculum demands - which all prevent on site school visits to local farms. Farms are very visual and extensive operations, which can make it difficult to get large groups on site.

“We are now running with 150 classroom and farmer pairings, in class sizes from 15 up to 85 and range in age from five to 18. We are also working with a number of agricultural colleges, so it is great to see further education institutions getting involved.

“We have seen a 100% success rate from teachers when asked if the pupils have a better understanding of where their food production comes from following Facetime a Farmer, which is fantastic.”

Sponsors of the Lincolnshire Farming Conference include Farmacy plc, Openfield, Anglian Water, Househam, Brown & Co, Wilkin Chapman LLP, Streets, OMEX, Riseholme College, Jelf, University of Lincoln and CLAAS.

Charles said: “One of the aims of the Lincolnshire Farming Conference is to get big speakers, exhibitors and sponsors to Lincolnshire to talk about their ideas, give advice and share their expertise. We were really fortunate to have such a strong mix at this year’s conference, and I am confident that each visitor who came took away something new, as we move into the next 150 years for Lincolnshire’s agriculture.”

For more information about the annual Lincolnshire Farming Conference, please visit www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk or call 01522 522 900 for further details.