UK AGRICULTURE is going through one of the toughest spells for many years.
Everywhere you look, prices are falling and the loss of income to the industry as a whole is put in the billions of £, rather than the millions.
But what does the future hold for those who pull through?
In the sixth of the series, this years 1998 and Beyond conference, (organised by Midland Bank, Deloitte and Touche and farmers weekly) will draw on the Canadian experience to seek some of the answers.
Top Canadian civil servant, Mike Gifford, will outline the changes to farm support across the Atlantic. He will consider the key issues at stake in the run up to new world trade talks and the lessons for Europe from what his country has already done.
Speakers for accountants Deloitte and Touche will then look at the current state of UK agriculture and set out some of the targets for future prosperity.
With the next round of CAP reform just beginning, these are likely to be moving targets. Midland Bank agriculture director, Norman Coward will consider the future shape of farm support and the influence of sterling on farmings fortunes.
Finally, local farmers Paul Hayward, Tim Brown and Martin Jenkins will provide a practical overview of how they see the future and what they are doing with their businesses to prepare for it.
• Each conference, which costs just £25 including VAT, will include tea and a hot buffet supper.
Chairman Norman Coward, agriculture director with Midland Bank, will look into his crystal ball at this autumns Outlook conference.
1998 and beyond
Tuesday, November 4: The Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate. 4.00pm to 7.00pm, in association with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
Wednesday, November 5: Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. 4.00pm to 7.00pm, in association with Arable Research Centres.
Thursday, November 6: East of England Showground, Peterborough. 4.00pm to 7.00pm, in association with the East of England Agricultural Society.
4.30Chairmans welcome: Norman Coward.
4.35Canadian messages for the UK. Lessons for Europe from north America: Mike Gifford.
5.20How profitable is British agriculture? Surviving the drop in farm incomes: Vincent Hedley Lewis (Harrogate and Peterborough) Mark Hill (Cirencester).
6.00What does the future hold? Global markets and currency considerations: Norman Coward.
6.40The Hayward View: Paul Hayward (Harrogate).
The Brown View: Tim Brown (Cirencester).
The Jenkins View: Martin Jenkins (Peterborough).
Tim Brown – is a first generation farmer running 2428ha (6000 acres) in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire on a tenanted and contract farming basis, including a 250-head suckler beef herd. He has a keen interest in eastern Europe, and is chief executive of a large Hungarian farming enterprise.
Norman Coward (chairman) – is current agriculture director with Midland Bank and, as such, a familiar face at many shows and conferences. Before joining Midland he set up and managed the old Milk Marketing Boards farm advisory service. He is visiting professor in Agriculture and Business Management at Wye College, University of London.
Mike Gifford – was born in the UK but moved to Canada in his teens. He joined the Canadian government in 1966 working on trade policy, becoming the main Canadian negotiator at the GATT talks. Currently director general of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (similar to MAFF) he will also lead the Canadian team in the impending World Trade Organisation talks in Geneva.
Paul Hayward – is a partner in a 290ha (717-acre) LEAF demonstration farm at Bishop Burton in the Yorkshire Wolds. Running a mixed farm, he sells his milk to MD Foods and grows a variety of seed and feed crops, plus vining peas. Mr Hayward is also a Nuffield scholar.
Vincent Hedley Lewis – leads the Deloitte and Touche Agriculture team, advising all manner of farm-related businesses. He specialises in farm business restructuring and also farms 688ha (1700 acres) of arable crops in Lincolnshire.
Mark Hill – is the partner in charge of Deloitte and Touche Agriculture in the south-west. A graduate of Reading University, he has over 10 years experience of advising farmers on finance, taxation and succession issues.
Martin Jenkins – farms almost 500ha (1240 acres) in Lincolnshire, including most combinable crops and a 6000-head turkey unit. He is also managing director of Childerley Estates in Cambridgeshire, chairman of the Lincolnshire NFU and vice-chairman for the Arable Research Centres.