Pasture to Profit Conference 2018

Published 4 December 18

Dairy farmer Andy Farrow recently attended the Pasture to Profit Conference with help from AHDB Dairy and our conference grant scheme. He sums up the event below: 

Arriving at the Pasture to profit conference in style, Tim Downes’ cow car certainly raises awareness of our industry as well as a few eyebrows. Some of you may have seen the cow car at this year’s Omsco conference and you will be pleased to know that the 4 foot cow on the roof survived Janine’s midnight ride!

Since becoming Dairy manager I am now faced with extra challenges compared to when I was a herdsman. Listening to farmers such as Richard Smith an OAD producer in Dorset, Chris North a young tenant farmer in Gloucestershire and Karen Halton, who swopped London office life for a farm in Cheshire, highlighted the importance of staff and how they are fundamental to success. But more importantly finding the right staff with enthusiasm, similar goals and motivation. They all had creative ways to maintain staff morale at this level, including flexible time off to fit around family commitments and outside work activities, taking the team on nights out to say thank you, Karen shocked the room when she explained that her and husband Tom employ a massage therapist to attend to any staff with aches and pains.

There were many good speakers at the conference, too many to mention, but one stood out for me. Professor Nicola Shadbolt from Massey University in NZ. Nicola spoke about decision making and being a resilient farmer. One area Nicola spoke about was around looking at what drives you: is it money, community, family or being creative? I’m sure we all think at least 2 of these points are important, but your wife or herdsman might have 2 different points as their focus, managing this can be difficult. Concluding on Nicola’s findings on a resilient farmer was willingness to change, there self-efficacy, strategic thinking and interacting with those inside and out of their industry and promoting opportunities to learn.

Throughout the conference the common theme seemed to be around the importance of staff and bringing new people into the industry. Time and time again I hear at conferences, workshops and various meetings that we need to promote our industry to attract new people. I would like to see organisations such as AHDB, RABDF, DEFRA or NFU driving this issue forward and making a real effort to get into schools and colleges to promote our industry. Or is it up to us farmers to do this and sell ourselves and lifestyle?

Andy Farrow