“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.