Stephen Ramsden, Northsidehead Farm, Harrogate
I've been through the Future Farming Resilience Fund with Defra last year, I had an ADAS man up, looked at my business, what I had on the farm, both stock and other assets. And from that, they gave us some ideas about what I should do in the future at the age of 60. I've got retirement options. I could take the lump sum for retirement, but I'm not ready yet, but I've got a son to follow so he'll come in as a partnership over the medium-to-long term. And there are improvements I can make on the farm and that's from an external party, offering that advice, which doesn't have to be taken, but it's free advice via Defra. And I would strongly suggest any farmer that has the option of doing that takes it on, if they're uncertain of what they want to do in the farming business in the next 5 to 10 years, because farming is a medium-to-long term business. I strongly suggest that as many farmers as possible take on the option because these are the most uncertain times farming has seen in living memory. For various reasons: climate change, bit of fallout from Brexit, and dare I say it, changing government policy, which is probably potentially, if we don't get ready for it through the transitional period, could be the most damaging part of our future prosperity for the benefit of our farms, the countryside, the environment and food production.
Welcome to Middlesmoor. I'm Stephen and I’m with a family whose future we've got to preserve, it’s a family farm. And one of our farmers in Middlesmoor is the Graham family, otherwise known as the Graham clan. We've got three of them here, we’ve got David, dad, Steph and Jess, and we're all here for the future of food and farming, David's a contractor and a farmer here on Middlesmoor, and the two children are both very keen on livestock, and that's all we really do up here, and we really need to make sure they've got a career for the future. And that's what the Future Farming Resilience Fund can offer as far as farmers are concerned, to make sure they've got a career in the future and look at their businesses. There's no commitment at the end of the day, but such advice can be valuable from a third party, professional financial people who both look at your farm, and look at your business, of which Graham’s is particularly diverse and that's something that we've all got to prepare to look at. The future is with us, but it's also with them and that’s David, Steph and Jess, and that is what we're all here about. That's the future, it’s that generation there, the family farm, and that's what we want to try and preserve. And that's our landscape that we're trying to farm, the upper Nidderdale AONB, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it’s farmers and the families, through many generations, who have made this landscape the way it is today, and that's what we want to try and preserve. It’s all farming. You love it. You love animals, which are your favourite, Jess, sheep or cows? Sheep. Sheep. What do you think, Steph, what do you like? Bit of both. Bit of both, that's very important. And Dave is more of a contractor, aren’t you, David? I don’t know. You don’t know. Well, we're all Jack of all trades, master of none, aren’t we? That’s it, whatever pays the best. Whatever pays the best, and that is the key to it, we've all got to make a profit.
Lesley Whistance, Little Garway Farm, Herefordshire
This is our farm on Garway Hill. My husband died in 2016, so Russell, my son, came back from working in Spain and set up his own enterprise working here on the farm. Upland farms particularly are going to be very, very short of money without the farm subsidies which will be reduced and then ended.
We took part in the farm business resilience review. Our key worker was Kerry Jerman, who was Andersons’ farm business consultant working with Ricardo’s-AEA. Kerry came to see us in August 2020 and we had our meeting in the workshop because of COVID, and then by the 9th of November, she had a 48 page document ready for us. She asked questions, and then went away, and did her magic, outlining our present situation, our finances, noting our strengths and our weaknesses. Her suggestions were to improve the stocking rates, to buy a different breed of sheep to suit the management plan, to improve the current trading position, and to utilise the bounce back loan, making repayments over 10 years. She suggested changing our bag silage to a self-feed system to reduce labour costs and forage costs. She made a detailed analysis of holiday-let costs, and her advice was to set goals and deadlines to help everyone focus on specific items to get completed. The whole document helps to get a better perspective of our enterprise and make plans for the future.
Tim Hankins, Pear Tree Farm, Northants
I'm Tim Hankins, living in Pear Tree Farm, in a little village called Aldwincle near Kettering in Northamptonshire. We’re a mixed 230 hectare arable beef, sheep, tenanted family farm. We do a fair bit of HLS, all our grassland’s basically in HLS, and we have margins and hedgerows all in our stewardship schemes, we’ve been in it for 29 years.
So here we are at Pear Tree Farm, this is one of the meadows which I am converting, it’s all in HLS now, it was a reversion, along with all the Willow trees in the background and my suckle herd down here in the meadow. This is one of the things that I love about farming, and I want to carry on doing it
The future of farming is going to change dramatically in the next few years, along with the reduction of the BPS payments, and so the time is now to look forward to see where we're going to head and how we're going to survive. One of the tools that Defra has in its armoury is called the Future Farming Resilience Fund, which is a fund which allows you to get a free consultation with experts in the field to help you to assess your businesses, and move on from that. So I went along, and I've had a meeting and a review has been done on my business, with Anderson’s in relationship with Ricardo’s AEA, and we've produced a working portfolio for me for the future.
The review process which I did through Anderson's gave me plenty of ideas and food for thought for the future, so I can safeguard my family farm, and produce food and look after the countryside for the future generations, and my family. So I'll just say to all you landowners and all you farmers out there, why not have a look at it, it's free, and if you want to use it’s there for you, you don't get much in life that’s free these days, so it'd be nice to have something.