5 minutes with… Farm Adviser of the Year Oliver Hodgkinson

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the Farmers Weekly Award winners – 15 extraordinary farmers, advisers, contractors and farmworkers who last year received one of farming’s highest accolades recognising their fantastic business achievements.

We catch up with Farm Adviser of the Year Oliver Hodgkinson, from Trefaldwyn vets in Powys, to find out what he has been doing since the Awards ceremony in October.

See also: Read more about what made Oliver our winner

Fact file

  • Joined Trefaldwyn vets in 2009 as a partner
  • Manages 20 members of staff, including 10 vets
  • Ensures he is on farm for at least half of each day
  • Sits on the steering group for BVD Wales

How did you feel after hearing you were a winner?

Really grateful and humbled to have received this award for doing something that I really enjoy.

I would not have been able to achieve this without the great support of my practice and family and also all the help of my former employers and education facilities.

At a time when we are seeing veterinary practices merging with corporate businesses, I am extremely pleased that as a partner in our independent practice I have been selected for this award. 

If I didn’t have the great clients coming to the practice, it wouldn’t have been possible.

Oliver Hodgkinson with a cow

© Richard Stanton

What’s the biggest challenge your business is facing right now?

Staffing issues and TB testing.

At the moment there appears to be a lack of vets, both in the large and small sector.

I do question whether the amount of testing that we have to do has an impact on vets remaining in a mixed practice.

We have recently employed a practice manager who is initially focusing on ensuring a fair distribution of tasks across the staff.

We want our team to work in a friendly environment that makes for good customer service for our clients.

We try to keep people happy, making sure they don’t spend too much time doing mindless jobs, and that this is fairly distributed through the staff.

This award is also great for helping to attract new employees.

What traits do you need to be a good farmer?

You have to be hard-working, compassionate to animals, open to new ideas, innovative, embrace change and good with business.

How can agriculture improve its image with the general public?

The public should be invited on to farms more and shown how great British agriculture is and how fantastic our welfare standards are.

We should also promote “buy local” months as the carbon footprint for these periods will be far less than bringing in products – such as exotic fruit – from abroad.

We need to work more closely with our customers as there appears to be very much a “them and us” culture.

I don’t believe that the customer truly understands the hard work and effort the typical farmer puts into their daily work to bring food to their table.

Quickfire questions

Where have you put your Awards plaque?

On the wall in the reception.

Finish the sentence. British Agriculture is…

simply the best.

If you were Defra secretary for the day and had the power to make one decision, what would it be?

A more proactive approach at looking at disease control in wildlife.

Enter or nominate now for the Farmers Weekly 2019 Awards at awards.fwi.co.uk


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