One hundred of the best business minds in the arable sector are being brought together in a new Question Time style event at Cereals 2010, hosted by HSBC Agriculture

There is no doubt that arable farming faces some big challenges over the next few years.

CAP reform and the uncertainty that hangs over the single farm payment, currency issues and interest rates as well as the relative unknowns of commodity values and input prices all stand to have a big impact on farming businesses across the UK.

Planning for such uncertainties is, of course, fraught with difficulty. But HSBC hopes that a new initiative appearing at Cereals 2010 will help producers find their way through the fog.

The bank has invited 100 of the best arable business brains to attend a new 100 Thoughts @ Question Time event. They, together with a panel of business and banking experts, under the watchful eye of John Humphrys, presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, will debate questions on key topics sent in by Farmers Weekly readers.

The aim is to stimulate a wealth of fresh thinking to help arable farmers prepare for the big changes that lie ahead, and to position their business for success.

 The panel

• Allan Wilkinson, head of HSBC Agriculture

• Peter Kendall, president of NFU

• Jane King, editor of Farmers Weekly

• Mark Berrisford-Smith, senior economist at HSBC Bank

• Robert Law, Cereals 2010 host farmer

Allan Wilkinson, HSBC’s head of agriculture, says the idea is an extension of the bank’s 100 Thoughts – global perspectives, local opportunities, which has drawn together innovative ideas from leading business minds from all parts of the globe, to help people take a fresh look at how they run their operations as the world attempts to shake off the effects of the recession.

“The bank is encouraging businesses to take a fresh look at what they are thinking and to share those ideas so other people can use them as a springboard.

“Farming may not have suffered as much as most from the credit crunch. But there are still plenty of challenges ahead – there is uncertainly over the single farm payment, currency and interest rates, as well as poor prices that demand effective marketing.

“Then there are the wider issues that affect us all, like how the new government intends to tackle the fiscal deficit and the likely impact of that.”

HSBC Bank recognises the value of the farming sector, says Mr Wilkinson. “It is a preferred sector – the only one in our commercial business with its own dedicated head.

“Because of that, it has given us the chance to have our own 100 Thoughts Question Time event – the only one of 18 going on around the country that is dedicated to one sector.”

Anyone wanting to tap into the top 100 arable business minds should email agriculture@hsbc.com to register, and then post their question. The best will be put into a hat and drawn on the day.

Visitors to the Cereals Event are invited to the HSBC stand to listen to proceedings. As space is limited, admission will be on a first come, first served basis.

“Increasingly, farmers will need to concentrate on the entrepreneurial part of their business to keep ahead,” says Mr Wilkinson. “I hope that this event will help farmers do just that.”


100 thoughts@Business Question Time

Wednesday, 9 June

3.30-5pm

HSBC (stand 609)