Farming Horizons - farmers gather to share success stories

Farmers from across the South West gathered in February to share ideas and hear from inspirational speakers about their farming success stories.

The Farming Horizon event was organised by the rural services team at Stephens Scown and took place on 16 February at the Flybe Training Academy, Exeter. The event was attended by a group of 40 invited farmers and farming businesses.

Susie Murray, partner in the rural services team at Stephens Scown said: “These are challenging times, with profits harder and harder to come by for farmers. However, there are some fantastic success stories out there and we wanted to use some of them as a way of sharing good ideas and sparking debate. The South West economy relies on a strong farming sector, and to continue to thrive it is important to share ideas and find the best ways of working for the future.”

The speakers included Tom Green, Non-Executive Director of Spearhead International Ltd – an integrated food and agriculture company with operations in six countries and over 1,800 employees. Tom spoke about the challenges and opportunities in the agri-food supply chain, including their vertically integrated model that focuses on adding value and exploiting synergies throughout the food supply chain.

Ed Salt of Delamere Dairy also gave an international perspective, sharing his story of opening a Far East Office and trading in goat and cows milk to over 20 countries worldwide. He also talked about their recent new product development that has given them the depth of range to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Growth has also been rapid for Wyke Farms, with the cheddar brand now available in 160 countries worldwide. Wyke Farms has developed a ground breaking on-site anaerobic digestion plant. It is still a family business and Richard Clothier shared his thoughts on having a integrated sustainability plan and its importance in the agri-food sector.

Andrew Freemantle shared the story of Kenniford Farm, touching on the volatility of the pig industry and the importance of diversification and finding ways of generating non-farming income.

Susie Murray added: “The event also allowed for time to talk about issues and share ideas. Key issues that were raised included the need to work more collaboratively together, by pairing entrepreneurial farmers with others who want to take a step back from their farms. Energy efficiency – both as a way to reduce costs and as a way to differentiate farming businesses for their customers – was also seen to be a key issue.”

Susie Murray is a partner and specialist in agricultural law at Stephens Scown. Susie is a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association and has been recognised as a leader in her field by independent legal guide Chambers.  To contact Susie please call 01392 210700, email