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Annual Conference

The annual IAgSA National Conference is a highlight in our calendar

It’s an excellent opportunity for members to meet like-minded people, get more involved within our industry and look to the future.  Every member is very welcome. The National Conference normally takes place over a weekend. It includes workshops and presentations by industry experts; a farm/industry related visit; Gala Dinner and the Annual General Meeting to close.  The weekend also allows for time to network and to catch up with old friends and socialise.

IAgSA 2024 Annual Conference Programme and Booking Form

Derbyshire Branch of IAgSA would like to invite all to the Annual Conference held at The Holiday Inn, South Normanton, DE55 2EH between Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd March 2024.

This year's Conference is entitled: "What now?"

With all the changes across the agricultural sector we would like our members and delegates to be able to help their farmers and clients manage their farming and rural businesses in the most efficient way. This year we are making the conference centred around the farmers, their businesses and how we can help and advise them.

Friday starts with a trade fair, open to all to attend

Saturday's trips and talks are rounded of with the traditional Gala Dinner.

This year Sunday commences with the General Meeting followed by "Topics in the spotlight—What you need to know"

Delegates are invited to stay for a traditional Sunday lunch to round off what promises to be a fabulous weekend.

A superb and diverse programme awaits those attending and further information and all booking is available at the link below:

IAgSA 2024 Annual Conference Programme and Booking Form

Booking is now available and must be made by Friday 5th January 2024

If you have any queries or require further information please contact:

Email: [email protected] or telephone: 07713 428023

Derbyshire Branch look forward to welcoming all to the event which again promises to be the highlight of the IAgSA year.

“Eating Elephants” Your business in bite size pieces

IAgSA Conference 2023

IAgSA Devon and Cornwall branches hosted a superb Annual Conference from the 3rd to the 5th February at the TLH Victoria Hotel, Torquay.

This event drew a 100+ Members and delegate attendees from the field of Rural Business Administration and allied associates to experience a weekend of presentations, workshops, huddles and social and business networking opportunities to “enable them to plan action and achieve, by breaking their business down into manageable segments”.

The weekend was Chaired by NFU Director, Mel Squires MBE, FRAgS, BSc (Hons) Ag and she provided useful insight and appraisal of the programme in her hosting.

A plethora of speakers took to the stage over the weekend to impart their wisdom, knowledge and motivational experiences to those present with standing room only at some sessions. It was a testament to the Conference Organisers to co-ordinate such a diverse yet wholly relevant cohort of speakers all bringing something very important and thought provoking to the event.

The organising committee, consisting of Julie Tucker, Fiona Stacey, Sue Gillbard, Carolyn Wright and Sophie Rees, seamlessly officiated the logistics of hosting the showcase event ensuring everyone attended just what they had asked to and knew who to approach for any support.

The event sponsors including: ICB, Farmplan, Landmark Systems, McClarrons, Brightpay, SUM-IT, Quickbooks, Old Mill Accountants and Buttons Accounting were thanked for their generous support of the event and all had many approaches from delegates as to their services and specialisms.

The Gala Dinner sponsored by ICB took place in the Warwick Ballroom and guests were entertained by not only a table circulating magician but also Guest Speaker David Kennard bringing smiles to faces and memories of childhood with his involvement in TV show “Mist: Sheepdog Tales. The evening was finished with dancing and great opportunities to catch up with colleagues and friends – some of many many years of knowing.

Cornwall Hospice and St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth each benefited from £1018 raised by the 2023 IAgSA conference raffle. Thanks to all who donated prizes and bought tickets.

The weekend closed with the General Meeting proceeded by a recorded Address from IAgSA Patron, Anne Baroness McIntosh of Pickering and all were wished a safe journey home and having spent a valuable weekend in Torquay were looking forward to Conference 2024 in Derbyshire.

For details about the conference and how to join IAgSA:

“Secrets for Working Smarter”

IAgSA Conference 2022

The atmosphere was buzzing at the fully booked IAgSA Conference 2022. Farm Secretaries and Rural Business Administrators finally enjoyed the opportunity to meet face to face for the first time in two years. Kindly organised and hosted by the IAgSA Staffordshire Branch this uplifting, fun-filled weekend revealed the “Secrets for Working Smarter” with an emphasis on individual productivity and wellbeing.

“Secrets for Working Smarter” speakers, seminars and workshops enlightened IAgSA members to the fact that working smarter, not harder, is the secret to efficiently getting work done. Emily Whitehead urged delegates to “find their magic” by focusing on their personal brand, vision and values. Whilst Alison Bradford gave a thought-provoking presentation on “The secrets to steal from super productive people”; revealing five tips contained in the word “focus” and sending everyone away with the message to “chunk” their time and stick to a task like a postage stamp.

Workshops by Landmark Systems, Sum-IT, Farmplan and WR Partners highlighted the key ways to use data-based decisions to increase productivity, eliminate risks and reduce costs.

Whilst the ICB gave a detailed presentation to support members in their own business s compliance requirements.

Sarah Parrott, Staffordshire IAgSA Chairman and Conference Co-ordinator said: “We were thrilled to host a fully booked conference. There was a definite buzz of excitement as our members gathered together after such a long break; there was a real thirst for knowledge, and everyone enjoyed the chance to kick back and relax with the evening entertainment too.

“A farm visit hosted by Karen Halton, Women in Dairy award winner, to Halton Farms was inspirational. Karen, is a passionate advocate for British farming, and was also conference chair on Sunday, helping to empower members to truly believe in themselves and their capabilities

“As the future of agriculture continues to change and challenge us, personal development can help to clarify and energise by uncovering new options, and ideas, helping you to break out from old routines and provide fresh and fulfilling motivation for a more productive future. Starting with yourself is the secret to working smarter.”

Thank you to our main sponsors, Landmark Systems, Sum-IT and Farmplan for their involvement with our conference and to all the local businesses, speakers and sponsors for making the conference such a success.

Thank you also to all those who gave so generously to our raffle at the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening. We were absolutely thrilled to be able to present a cheque for £1200 to the Farm Safety Foundation, our chosen conference charity.

For details about the conference and how to join IAgSA:

Rising to the “Virtual” Challenge

Conference Week 2021

IAgSA (The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators) Conference Week 2021 will, like many other conferences, be a little different this year. An informative and engaging programme of presentations and webinars will be available for members to get involved with from the 8th to the 12th March, culminating in the 53rd Annual General Meeting on Friday 12th at 12.00pm

Live and pre-recorded content from IAgSA Corporate Partners and Members, as well as Janet Hughes, Programme Director for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme, will provide inspirational and interactive opportunities to learn about future ways of working.

The Agricultural Industry has shown resilience and responsiveness when faced with challenges such as COVID-19,  the EU exit and the continual development of technology to aid sustainability and profitability in farming provide positive challenges. Online webinars will look to the future, consider the impact of new agricultural policy and market regulations, and consider the opportunities to move forward progressively, embracing the changes ahead for the future of farming.

Christine Thompson, IAgSA Chairman said: “IAgSA members, along with their clients, will need to embrace some of the largest changes to UK agriculture since 1960 as we enter the Agricultural Transition Period. However, I know that they will all rise to the challenges and opportunities presented. Let’s hope that the Covid-19 vaccination programme enables everyone to meet once again either in the autumn or at the 2022 Conference.

“In the meantime, we look forward to e-meeting many of our members next week and hope that they enjoy the programme of events we have put together.”

Please click here for full details of the IAgSA 

2020 IAgSA National Conference

Farm Secretaries Host Annual Conference at the Peebles Hydro

The IAgSA National Conference, two years in the planning, brought delegates from all over the UK to the Scottish Borders at the weekend.

More than 100 IAgSA (Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators Ltd) members from as far afield as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight gathered for the organisation’s 51st Annual National Conference from 28 February to 1 March.  It was a mammoth task for the five-strong IAgSA Scottish Borders team, but they were delighted with how the packed three-day event at Peebles Hydro went. The event’s joint headline sponsors were local accountants Greaves, West & Ayre and Agri-software specialists Farmplan.

Friday afternoon workshops and presentations were popular including AML compliance, Year End Tax Planning, Cyber Security and AHDB Benchmarking. SGRPID and Defra were in attendance to talk about what the future in Agriculture holds after Brexit. Agri-software specialists, Farmplan, Landmark and Sum-It were on hand to talk to delegates about their systems and answer any queries.

The Conference theme was “Knowing No Borders” and the recurring message from all of our speakers throughout the weekend was not being afraid to challenge personal “borders” and to have a go at the range of skills needed to develop a business idea from scratch.

On Saturday morning delegates were inspired by Lynn Mann’s personal journey from aerobics instructor to psychotherapist to running her own farm diversification business; multi award winning Supernature Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oils. Anna Davies of Scene & Herd Public Relations & Marketing stressed it falls upon all of us involved in the industry to fly the flag for British Agriculture to the general public. Anna and her team have recently launched Scotland’s first dedicated rural podcast Police Scotland’s National Rural Crime Co-ordinator, Alan Dron soon had the attention of all the delegates getting across a serious message in a highly entertaining way. He reported the statistics of rural crime in Scotland and how they have set up SPARC (Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime) to tackle this increasing problem within rural areas.

On Sunday morning we heard from more talented local farming entrepreneurs, dairy and sheep farmer Sally Williams and dairy and tomato grower Jim Shanks. They have both established highly successful businesses, providing local employment and top-quality produce. Along the way they have become experts in marketing, utilising technology and getting staff and family onside with their business ideas. IAgSA’s New Patron, Baroness Anne McIntosh, was also in attendance and thoroughly enjoyed her first Conference.

This annual gathering is also about having fun with old friends, making new ones and learning about farming in different parts of the country. On Saturday afternoon there was a chance to visit Kailzie Gardens, explore Peebles and use the hotel leisure facilities before the evening’s entertainment. After the traditionally Scottish Gala Dinner we heard from West Linton sheep farmer, Hamish Dykes who featured in BBC’s Lambing Live. An evening of Scottish hospitality is never complete without ceilidh dancing and a great evening was enjoyed by all. The Conference’s charity throughout the weekend was RSABI who benefited from raffle proceeds of over £1,000.

“This conference has been two years in the planning however that time has flown by, especially last weekend, the culmination of all our hard work,” the organising committee said. The team were “delighted with every aspect of the event” and “proud to showcase the Scottish Borders to IAgSA members from all over the UK”.  There was something for everyone and – judging by the great feedback we’ve had – they’ll be back to see more of the area. “Peebles Hydro did us proud and the event ran very smoothly thanks to their wonderful staff. We set out to explore the theme of “Knowing No Borders” and we are confident we have achieved that.”

“Seeing the Bigger Picture”

Suffolk Branch aimed to offer “something for everyone”.  A weekend break in a beautiful venue, opportunities to catch up with friends and a chance to “See the Bigger Picture’ with industry specialists.  There were also options for Day Delegates.

We kicked off on Friday afternoon with a range of workshops, and then presentations in the evening. Suffolk member Jo Card arrived on Saturday morning and gives her views on her second IAgSA conference:

Saturday highlights for me began with a combi-presentation from Will Mitcham - Wilson Wraight, Tracey Nicholls - HFL Accountants and Jeanette Dennis - Ashtons Legal, combining their advice on spotting opportunities to help a farm business grow, adapt or diversify.  An interactive session followed led by Antony Sloan, HR Director – Ashtons Legal.  In his typical “Sunshine Yellow” style, he explained how Insights Discovery psychometric tool based on the psychology of Dr Carl Jung, is used to sort personality traits into four colours.   Fiery Red “Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone”, Sunshine Yellow “Involve Me”, Earth Green “Show You Care” and Cool Blue “Give Me Detail”.  We were soon working out our colours and the “Fiery Reds” promptly made their voices heard above the chatter and laughter while “Cool Blues” needed more time to sift through the facts and “Earth Greens” needed careful thinking time. The serious side of Antony’s presentation was of course to provide an interesting and colourful way to improve communications and minimise conflict in business and personal relationships.

Dr Alastair Leake of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust spoke about the formation of the Allerton Project and outlined various experiments undertaken to maximise crop output to feed a growing population and minimise impact on the environment.

A leisurely afternoon and an enjoyable dinner were followed by a very amusing and interesting story from Jason Salisbury of how their successful Suffolk Farmhouse Cheese business came into being. The evening closed with local countryman Neil Catchpole entertaining us with typical Suffolk stories and songs.  Local mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone) also benefited from the grand draw and over £1000 was raised.

Sunday morning started with a lively talk from Susie Emmett of Green-Shoots Marketing about how we can do better at business, in relationships, hospitality and giving examples of what she has learned from observing work environments in other parts of the world compared to the UK.

Sir Jim Paice, retiring as patron of IAgSA, shared his thoughts on the challenges facing farmers and politicians in the light of the uncertainties of policies following BREXIT particularly in terms of World trade. Sir Jim said “IAgSA is a fantastic organization” and thanked them for inviting him as patron, which he has enjoyed for 8 years.

NFU’s Guy Smith emphasised some of Sir Jim’s key points saying that volatility has always been a challenge for farmers but that political volatility is now an added issue. Despite political uncertainty and lower production standards elsewhere in the world, farmers need to remain confident and continue to invest in farming to maintain the UK’s high standards.  He stressed to conference delegates that they perform a vital role at the “coal face” of the agricultural industry that will become even more important in the months to come.

Following the conference, the East Anglian Daily Times published an article on the conference which can be found by clicking here.

2018 IAgSA National Conference

This year’s Conference was hosted by the North Wales Branch. We are a young branch, established 3 years ago and are slowly building up our membership. Work started organising the conference a good 15 months ago, and we decided that Nant Gwrtheyrn, originally an old Quarry Village was to be our venue, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The conference began with 3 workshops on the Friday Afternoon:- Mindfullness – Holly Beckett Human Resources – Inga Davies (members can click here to download the handouts from the presentation) Marketing – Sian Tandy + Beca Davies All the workshops proved to be well attended, interesting and informative. On Friday evening after dinner the Delegates enjoyed an evening of Welsh Folk Dancing. On Saturday the delegates where welcomed by our Chairperson for the Weekend – Elaine Rees Jones. Elaine was very able and kept things flowing smoothly throughout the whole weekend .Venture Forward was the theme of the weekend and speakers Einir Davies and Rhys Williams from Farming Connect gave us a brief insight into the Venture Programme they had to offer. This was followed by 3 speakers, David Wynne Finch, Elgan Davies and Matthew Jackson who shared their experience of Share Farming. All speakers put over how well this has worked for them. They shared enthusiasm to take farming forward. A few minutes of Laughing Yoga, which got the delegates enjoying themselves and in a more relaxed mood followed. The morning session ended with an informative session by a young Accountant, Julie Cope which covered current issues relating to running a Farm business. A visit was arranged to the nearby Electric Mountain in the afternoon, together with wine tasting by Pant Du Vineyard and a Guided Walk by Rhys Mwyn giving delegates a taste of Welsh heritage. All delegates attended the Gala Dinner, where they enjoyed an after dinner speech from Gareth Wyn Jones, our very own Celebrity Farmer sharing his ways of getting farming known to the public. Entertainment for the evening ‘Tri Gog a Hwntw’ was enjoyed by all. The Welsh singers gave a very Welsh performance! Sunday morning started with a showing of a newly produced IAgSA Film, followed by three very inspirational ladies that are involved in their own right in agriculture:- Jamie McCoy, Teleri Fielding and Abi Reader. The morning session ended with an update from our Patron, Sir Jim Paice DL. AGM concluded the end of conference. We had a good team working together, getting everything organised so that the Delegates enjoyed the weekend and went home inspired and looking for a venture that will take Farming forward to the future. Praise must also go the Venue and Staff that looked after us so well.

2017 IAgSA National Conference

Our special 50th Anniversary Conference was sold out early and had a record attendance of 120 weekend delegates and 47 extra day delegates on the Saturday.  During the AGM two Council Members were presented with Fellowships for their work.  Christine Thompson for her achievement in setting up the Mentoring and Associate package we now offer new entrants and Ros Foreman for her support and work involved in the new website.  We thank them and all Council members for their work in the year that Council hosted Conference. Please click here to see a report and photos from our Norfolk Branch of their Conference experience. IAgSA Members can click here to view and download a selection of the Speaker and Workshop presentations from the weekend.

2016 IAgSA National Conference

Our small Chilterns team are very grateful to the many sponsors and supporters who helped to make the 2016 Conference weekend possible including our very able Conference Chairman; Julian Sayers of Adkin who kept us on track. We had an array of speakers who explained how we should prepare ourselves for unexpected situations such as death of a business partner (Jane Maitland of Henmans Freeth solicitors), preparation of your accounting affairs to leave all in order to the beneficiaries (Helen King of Ellacotts), how to avoid bank and cyber fraud (Ashok Patel of Barclays Bank) and what to expect if you are picked for an RPA inspection (Gemma Bust, RPA). Our industry partners Farmplan, Landmark, McClarrons and Sum-It provided us with workshops on their specialist subjects during the afternoon session. Our drinks reception was held in the remarkable grand hall at Heythrop Hall and was kindly sponsored by Henmans Freeth.  Our Gala dinner was part supported by very generous donations from ICB and McClarrons rounded off by a brain-teaser puzzle provided by Farmplan who gave out several prizes to the winners. Sir James Paice (our Patron) gave us a few comments on BREXIT and the many unknowns.  Caroline Drummond of LEAF provided some very stark facts on the sustainability of world food and the links to our industry and John Carter from RPA stepped in to deputise for Mark Grimshaw to give us the latest position with RPA and BPS. Roger Davies was also around all weekend to give practical help on the BPS 2016 online process. Most of the presentations are available here on our website in the Members' Library in Past Event Papers.

2015 IAgSA National Conference

The 2015 IAgSA National Conference took place at the The Palace Hotel, Buxton in Derbyshire on 6th - 8th March. Kindly hosted and organised by IAgSA Derbyshire Branch Members: Sally Wood, Fiona Hadfield, Lesley Williamsons, Liz Jackson & Rebecca Cook.

2014 IAgSA National Conference

The 45th IAgSA National Conference was organised by Ann Davies and Jerilynn Emms of the Wiltshire Branch and took place on 7th - 9th March 2014 at the Farncombe Conference Centre, Farncombe Estate, near Broadway, Worcestershire.  We would like to thank everyone who made the 2014 Conference a success including:
Agrovista  – AMC  – Bidwells – CarverKnowles  – Charles Martell  – Cotswold Gold  – Crowthers  – Farmade  – Farmplan  – Hazlewoods  – ICB  –
Landmark – Little Soap Company – McClarrons  – NFU Mutual – Old Farm Dorn  – R & L Holt  – Simply Seasonal  – Smiths Gore  – Sum-It  – Tracy Solis Trust – Wychavon District Council –

2013 IAgSA National Conference

"Food for Thought"

The 44th IAgSA National Conference "Food for Thought" took place on 8th - 10th March 2013 at the Royal York Hotel in York.  First generation farmers were among a number of high calibre speakers who addressed the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators’ (IAgSA) 44th Annual Conference held in York over the weekend.  Their tales of determination to succeed, inspired members with a positive attitude to what is possible, both in personal and work life.  Howard Petch CBE, chaired the conference with his clever ability to entertain whilst conveying a serious message on the challenges ahead for feeding the world.  Amongst the other speakers, we heard from Martin Redfearn of Barclays Agriculture and IAgSA Patron; The Right Honourable Sir Jim Paice MP.  Local farm and rural administrator; Christine Thompson and her team pulled out all the stops to create a thought provoking and enjoyable weekend.

Trace Wright of Tumby Woodside in Lincolnshire beat 11 other finalists to win the Elizabeth Roe Award for best Continual Professional Development submission in 2012.  The judges were impressed with the high standard of all the entries.

Both Tim Cartwright and Cathy Meredith were awarded a Fellowship for their services to IAgSA, this was especially given in recognition of their efforts in helping to produce the  Farm Office Handbook and bespoke IAgSA Farm Accounting and Business Administration Training Programme. 

2012 IAgSA National Conference

The 43rd IAgSA National Conference "2012 and beyond - moving forward"  was hosted by the IAgSA Shropshire Branch on 9, 10 & 11 March 2012 at the Albrighton Hall Hotel & Spa, Albrighton, Shrewsbury.
Friday 9th March 2012 1.00pm Registration and Trade Stands available until 6.30 2.00pm Workshops, Farmplan /Sum-IT / NVZ’s with ADAS 3.00pm Workshops, Farmade /Landmark / Social Media with Jan Minihame 4.00pm Tea 4.30pm CAP reform – Alun Williams of RPA 5.15pm Money Laundering Regulations – Garry Carter of ICB 6.00pm Members Branch Forum 7.30pm Supper 8.30pm Help for Heroes – Ian Sawers
Saturday 10th March 2012 8.30am Registration and Trade Stands available until 6.30pm 8.55am Chairman’s Welcome, Simon Latter NFU Shrewsbury 9.00am New pensions scheme – Andrew Gardner, HSBC 9.45am Financing the future – Craig Sigley, Barclays Bank 11.00am Fit for purpose – Rachel Kili Physiotherapy 11.30am Economic future of Rural Britain – Dr Barry Florey, Harper Adams University College 12.00am Rescuing Fordhall – Charlotte Hollins 12.30pm Lunch 1.30pm Visits to Albrighton Estate / Fordhall / Adventure Activities 5.00pm Approx return from visits 7.30pm Evening Reception 8.00pm Dinner & Guest Speaker – Margaret Thrower (daughter of Percy Thrower)
Sunday 11th March 2012 09.30am Question Panel Time with Duncan Montgomery of Whittingham Riddell, Tom Devey of Mfg Solicitors, Andrew Connah of AMC Agricultural Finance 11.00am Coffee Break 11.30am IAgSA Patron’s Rt Hon Jim Paice MP 12.00am Annual General Meeting 1.00pm Conference close