The CLA held its annual Big Breakfast on the opening day of the Royal Three Counties Show on Friday, 17 June with over 250 people enjoying a full English breakfast featuring local produce and the opportunity to hear from agricultural experts.
After a poignant start with a silence in memory of MP Jo Cox, CLA members and guests heard renowned industry commentator and HSBC Head of Agriculture Allan Wilkinson stress the importance of embracing change and opportunity.
Mr Wilkinson said: “We must ensure we can compete internationally and we need to go out and seek new markets.”
“We have got to adapt change if necessary and make sure businesses are linked to our own food chain. There will be a lot of change, a lot of challenge, but also a lot of opportunity.”
Allan joined HSBC bank in 1988 as an Agricultural Banking Manager in Shropshire and Herefordshire, so was completely at home in the spectacular setting of the Malvern showground.
CLA President Ross Murray gave a very positive and upbeat talk for the farming industry, which he described as the most successful in Europe. After touching on agricultural volatility and the EU referendum, Ross gave a worthy tribute to those in public service, “something one tends to forget, and it is easy to become overcritical.”
Andrew Grant said: “The CLA Big Breakfast has grown from small beginnings – only 30 people attending some 10 years ago – to become one of the most important events at the Three Counties Showground. Its success means it can now attract national speakers such as the Head of Agriculture at HSBC. It was understandable that minister Liz Truss could not attend in view of the tragic death of Jo Cox and campaigning for the Referendum rightly being cancelled that day.”
Mary Wathen, Head of Agricultural and Rural Affairs at Harrison Clark Rickerbys said: “Farming, and the management of our countryside, is at the heart of the UK, and the speakers today gave us great insight into the future of the sector, whether that be in or outside the EU. Working with rural businesses through challenging times as well as good times as we do, we know that there is a tremendous wealth of talent and commitment in those businesses to creating a sustainable future.”
Bill Ballard of Ballard Dale Syree Watson said: “The farming industry continually has to deal with change and not just with the climate. The ramifications of whether we are in or out of Europe will have a dramatic effect on the agricultural industry. It is essential that the industry can rely on strong voices like the CLA as well as being backed up by very competent professional advisors in order to be able to manage these effects.”