Meet The Speakers – Future of Farming Forum

9th April 2021

Britain’s agricultural landscape is one of diversity. 

From hardy Shetland cattle to rich Cornish dairy, the variety of arable and pastoral farming across the nation is one of our greatest strengths. But we are also facing one of our greatest periods of challenge.

At our Future of Farming event on 11 May, we will hear from experts from across the rural industry, as they discuss the potential strategies for navigating a difficult few years ahead:

Gareth Wyn Jones, Hill farmer, Tyn Llwyfan

Gareth Wyn Jones has lived all his life at Tyn Llwyfan in Llanfairfechan . His family have been farming lamb and beef on the Carneddau range for over 370 years. Hill farmer Gareth is a passionate and knowledgeable spokesman for the Welsh food industry, sustainable farming and the environment.

Known as the ‘tweeting farmer’, he shares his daily life and has seen how social media, is a platform to educate the public. Recently online Boohoo giant retracted their statement to not use wool in any of their clothing after Gareth’s tweet on how sustainable wool is, went viral.

Gareth features regularly on mainstream television including BBC’s Countryfile as well as programmes like Mountain with Griff Rhys Jones, Snowdonia 1890, Wales In Four Seasons and even Come Dine With Me and CBBC. The BAFTA nominated The Hill Farm, “Farmer and the Food Chain” and “The Milkman” sees him seeking to educate the public about food, farming, it’s heritage, traditions and its challenges. Gareth is just as passionate about food as he is about the industry which produces it. He enjoys good, wholesome, home-cooked meals, “Sunday lunch is special in our house; it’s a family meal, where we eat meat I’ve raised and veg I’ve grown.”.Gareth has also strongly campaigned to protect the Carneddau Mountain Ponies; a rare native breed that have been roaming the Carneddau range since Celtic times. They have been part of the ecology of the Carenddau Mountains and have been managed by Gareth and his family for hundreds of years.

Matthew Foster and Gritt Foster, MGF Grower Services

Matthew and Gritt set up their business to give them flexibility to run their farming business and use their experience to offer consultancy to other growers.

They invest a lot of time in finding new ways of working, trialling new varieties or new products to give us some market edge – innovation is their negotiation. They confront their problems and adapt their business to suit market needs. Labour, its cost and availability, is their number one cost and management priority.

Using their experience, they have represented a German crop protection company in the UK for the last 10 years, selling rain covers to cherry growers. They spotted saw an opportunity this year in the viticulture market for another of product, the anti-frost heater – now they’re trialling that in 10 vineyards in the UK and contributing to Sustainable Wines GB, providing technical support to UK vineyards. The UK has more than 4000 ha of vineyards now, after some serious investment over the last 10 years, but the climate does not make viticulture easy – hence MGF’s involvement.

Kit Franklin, Senior Lecturer of Agricultural Engineering, Harper Adams University

Kit Franklin is a Senior Lecturer of Agricultural Engineering at Harper Adams University. His role includes developing undergraduate course structure and content, student recruitment, international business development and innovative agricultural engineering research.

Kit’s research focusses on “future farming systems” with the most notable project to date being the award-winning ‘Hands-Free Hectare’. As co-creator and co-investigator, he successfully managed the day-to-day running of the collaborative, Innovate UK-backed, project which set out to achieve a world’s first; using automated machines to grow the first arable crop remotely, without operators in the driving seats or agronomists on the ground.

From planting to harvesting the barley crop, no person entered the Hands-Free Hectare. The Hands-Free Hectare has now grown to a farm for which Kit is Principal investigator. He sits on the Executive Committee of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers IAgrE and was awarded a “Rising Star” of UK agriculture by Farmers Weekly in 2017.

Abi Reader, Herd Manager, E Reader and Sons

Abi Reader is a third generation dairy farmer milking 200 cows on the urban fringe of Wales’ capital, Cardiff.  She is a partner in the business with her father and uncle; her mother also works on the farm.  She is a graduate of the Royal Agricultural University.  Abi has a number of industry roles including National Farmers Union Cymru Dairy Board Chair, Chair of Cattle Certification Standards (CHECS) and she sits on the Wales Animal Health & Welfare Framework Group.  Abi is a farmer host of the national initiative Open Farm Sunday as well as co-founder of CowsOnTour, a voluntary group who visit schools to talk about Food & Farming.  In 2019 Abi was awarded an MBE for Services to Farming in the Queens Honours and in 2020 she was made Farmers Weekly Farming Champion.

Dr. David Bozward, Head of Entrepreneurship, Royal Agricultural University

David is a serial technology entrepreneur, educator, researcher and authority on international youth entrepreneurship and education with over 20 years entrepreneurial business experience. Over the last ten years he has successfully created and delivered enterprise and entrepreneurship education through a number of government and university organisations. He has designed and delivered a broad range of extracurricular entrepreneurship interventions, university elective modules and a venture creation degree programme.

Through national campaigns, he has developed a network of student led enterprise societies, which covers over 200 UK education institutions with a membership of over 40,000 students. He has also worked with students in over 114 higher education institutions, providing unique consultancy on extra-curricular enterprise skills development.

In 2016, he was invited to be a member of Maserati 100 the top 100 individuals in the UK actively supporting the next generation of future entrepreneurs and was awarded a lifetime fellowship of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.

Ian Bell OBE FRAgS, Head of Farming and Rural Engagement, Folk 2 Folk

Ian has a practical background in farming.  At the outset of Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001 became involved in the Addington Fund, supporting farming and rural businesses.  As CEO, developed the charity’s housing initiative to offer tenant farmers a retirement option.  Joined FOLK2FOLK in January 2018.  Currently serving a second term as a Committee Member of the Farmers’ Club.  A Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Farmers.

Guy Hollebon,Legal Director, Employment and Immigration

Guy is a Legal Director in the Employment and Immigration Team at HCR. Guy advises employers of all sizes on a full range of employment law matters and is constantly looking for innovative ways to resolve problems and achieve the desired outcome, by combining a commercial focus with a deep knowledge of employment law. Based in the Wye Valley office, Guy has developed a particular specialism in advising rural employers including equine and agricultural businesses. Recent work has included drafting contracts of employment for a stud farm and horse racing yard, advising a large farming business on the employment law issues involved in integrating a newly acquired subsidiary and advising an agricultural employer on avoiding pitfalls when terminating employment.

Robert Moore, Principal Scientist, APEM Ltd

Robert has 30 years’ work experience in the UK water industry, including as a consultant for the Environment Agency for over ten years. He is a Principal Scientist at APEM Ltd, a world-class environmental and geospatial consultancy.

He was a policy advisor for the Environment Agency and specialised on the regulation of the water industry. He started his career at the National Rivers Authority as a Pollution Control Officer. He managed a district with numerous dairy farms, pig and poultry units, arable farms and also potato and salad vegetable processing businesses. He investigated water pollution incidents, monitored water quality and lead enforcement action as necessary. He visited farmers to provide advice on slurry management and pesticides. He was BASIS registered for advising on chemicals used in agriculture and was responsible for the approval for building new slurry storage tanks and lagoons.

He has worked with a number of government bodies and managed the review of the nitrates directive for Defra and supported the Isle of Man Government on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (helping them to make it Manx specific).

Anna Kilty Principal Consultant – Natural Capital and Biodiversity Net Gain APEM Limited

Anna Kilty has 10 years experience in the Water Industry and she is a Principal Consultant specialising in Natural Capital and Biodiversity Net Gain at APEM Ltd, a world-class environmental and geospatial consultancy.

Anna was a project manager for the Environment Agency. Her career with the EA covered: flood risk management, water resources management, water resources policy and latterly developing and authoring the supplementary guidance for the Water Resources Planning Guideline on Natural Capital.

Anna has worked with numerous regulators and stakeholders including: Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Ofwat and the Drinking Water Inspectorate. She has managed and facilitated technical groups including a vast variety of stakeholders.

This session focusses on demystifying natural capital for the farming and rural business sector, understanding the possible applications and identifying possible opportunities for the future.

Dr Andrew Davey, Principal Consultant, APEM Ltd

From a dairy farming background in Somerset, Andrew is an environmental scientist with over 16 years research and consultancy experience in environmental land management. With technical expertise in water quality, freshwater ecology and natural capital, he is currently a Principal Consultant at APEM Ltd and has been involved in variety of collaborative projects between the agricultural and water sectors to develop water-friendly farming systems. Since 2007, he has supported the Catchment Sensitive Farming monitoring and evaluation programme and is the lead author of a series of studies evaluating the effectiveness of pollution mitigation measures across England. More recently, Andrew produced the UKWIR benefit assessment framework used by water companies and regulators to quantify the benefits of catchment management schemes and has hosted a series of stakeholder workshops to promote the sustainable use of pesticides.

Kate Speke-Adams, Head of Land Use, Wye & Usk Foundation

Kate heads up a team of Catchment Advisers at the Wye & Usk Foundation, a rivers trust delivering a broad range of advice and funding to farming businesses in Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Powys. WUFs projects include pesticide stewardship to protect drinking water supplies, Natural Flood Management approaches in catchments above rural communities at risk, farm yard infrastructure to improve clean/dirty water separation and soil health assessments which both help to reduce the levels of nutrient and sediment impacting on our rivers. Since 2018 we have submitted £14.5m worth of stewardship scheme applications in Herefordshire to support capital improvements, buffer strips, provision for pollinators and farmland birds and management of priority habitats like species rich grassland.

WUF are hosting one of the water stewardship pilots for the Courtauld Commitment signatories, giving the opportunity to engage retailers and processors with the challenges their suppliers and growers face in the Wye and direct funding support directly to those suppliers to help them take proactive steps to reduce the impact of the supply chain on water.

They are now starting to explore Natural Capital markets to fund these types of approaches and reduce reliance of land management on government support.

Nicolas Groffman, Head of International, HCR

Nicolas Groffman is Head of the International Practice at HCR. The overseas remit of the firm covers the Netherlands, Shanghai, Boston, Copenhagen, Mumbai and the Netherlands.

Nicolas advises companies on overseas set-up, import/export matters, investigation of overseas counterparties, the trade agreement with the EU, and related matters. He has recently assisted the following agricultural clients:

  • a US grain and feedstock manufacturer on some of their China related work
  • a chemical manufacturer supplying agricultural fertilisers and industrial chemicals
  • a farm management software company with its overseas investment
  • a hydraulic earth moving equipment company on a joint venture.

Nicolas has both British and New Zealand nationality. He studied Chinese at Cambridge University and practised law in China for 16 years until moving to the UK in 2015.

Georgia Shriane, Senior Associate, Commercial, HCR

Georgia works in the commercial team and supports many different types of business in the preparation of their business contracts. She has a special focus on data protection and has developed experience in advising clients all over the world on the GDPR and its UK equivalent, the Data Protection Act 2018. Georgia has an interest in farming and agriculture and also regularly advises equestrian professionals.

Shirley Rabbetts, Partner, Wills Trusts and Estates, HCR

Shirley Rabbetts is a partner in our Wills Trusts and Estates Planning Team. She is experienced in the preparation of all wills, lasting powers of attorney and trusts to ensure that client’s wishes are carried out in the event of their death or incapacity whilst minimising the impact of inheritance tax.

In particular Shirley specialises in advising farming families on succession planning taking account of the available inheritance tax reliefs and the ongoing operation of the business. Additionally Shirley advises clients following the death of family members ensuring that inheritance tax accounts submitted to HMRC are prepared to ensure that any available reliefs are appropriately claimed to mitigate the tax liability and works with the family to put in place future succession planning.

Shirley has been involved in the agricultural sector for all of her life and enjoys the challenges that this sector brings. Shirley is a full member of STEP and the Agricultural Law Association.

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