British Farming Awards 2020

Napthens - June 16th 2020

This year I am delighted to be involved in the British Farming Awards as a judge on the Diversification Innovator (Large) of the Year Award panel.

Family farming enterprises represent the majority of my client base and are the backbone of British farming so for me, getting involved in these awards is hugely rewarding and enables me to spend time hearing some of the fascinating stories surrounding innovation in the sector.

As with most industries of course, innovation is key to survival.  (In fact one of Napthens core values is also innovation).  It is what keeps the industry and British Farming ahead of the rest of the world in terms of standards and quality of products and welfare of their animals.  It also ensures that businesses that operate on small profit margins and in a volatile marketplace can keep profitable and survive in hard times - which given the current COVID situation is more important than ever.

Volatility is always the main challenge facing the industry.  This is compounded by BREXIT and now COVID.  The worry of poorer quality imported products and changes to subsidy with the passing of the recent Agriculture Bill is top of the agenda and likely to be a main concern going forward.  The key message I try to get over to our clients is – be aware of these issues but focus efforts on the issues which are within your direct control, such as cost of production, supply contracts, etc. Businesses who are in control of these areas are more easily able to adapt to issues outside of their control when the need arises.

The British Farming Awards are highly respected in the industry and highlight the leaders in the sector who are truly the best of the best at what they do. I am keen to encourage entry into the awards – whether your own farming business or if you would like to nominate someone/business for one of the awards.

Entering is a challenge to yourself - to demonstrate you have what it takes to compete with the best farmers.  It shows confidence in your product and approach to farming.  Winning a category of course is a stamp of approval and shows buyers in particular, that you are at the top of your game.  But I believe that just entering your category can be of benefit – as it is an opportunity to learn from feedback from the judges.  Any comments on your methods or approach to business can be used to make changes if needed, to improve and help grow your business.

Personally, I will be looking for submissions which show a clear understanding of where the business is and where they want it to be going forward.  Having discussed with colleagues, rural accountants, bank managers and agents, we all agree that the best businesses don’t sit back and assume everything will be OK.  They plan for the future of the farm, assess and identify options for alternative sources of income such as diversification or grants, and have contingencies in place for worst case scenarios.  They have their legal affairs in order (vital given my role!) with wills in place for all partners and their spouses, powers of attorney and partnership agreements.  Farming for most family farms is a way of life and not a business – and it’s crucial for all concerned to think of the long term - not just the here and now.

Whether you are considering entering the awards or not, if some of the issues I’ve described ring true for you, please feel free to contact myself or a member of my team here at Napthens if we can be of any assistance to you, your family and your business at this time.

To enter the awards:  www.britishfarmingawards.co.uk/