farming Rural

CLA Rural Business Conference: Redefining Farming | Our overview

Q4 2017

Strutt & Parker was delighted to sponsor the CLA's second Rural Business Conference this week, which was entitled Redefining Farming. Here, we summarise the key points from the report which came out of the conference.

Download PDF


Business management guru Jim Collins identified a number of traits common to great businesses. At the top of the list is people, leadership and “having the right people on the bus”. This is closely followed by a willingness to confront the brutal facts.

Farm businesses are not only facing a dramatic shake-up in agricultural subsidies, access to labour and the trading arrangements under which they operate, but with investment in technology increasing we are also on the cusp of the next agricultural revolution. Add into this changing public expectations about how land should be used and managed and you have some real challenges, but these are the brutal facts that farming must confront if it is to be a sustainable and profitable sector in the years ahead. This is a most exciting time and a future that is ours to make but this requires change.

Change can be daunting and there will always be a temptation to resist it, particularly in a sector like agriculture which can be as much a way of life as a business. The devaluation in sterling adds a distracting veneer to things at the moment but this Brexit “honeymoon period” will change and for those businesses that fail to recognise this profitability and lifestyle will be under threat.

Now is the time to be getting “the right people on the bus”, and facing up to the “brutal fact” that agriculture is entering the perfect storm. We are already seeing that for those businesses with an ambition for the future, energised by a clarity of purpose and with a mindset that is open to change, new opportunity and a bright future lies ahead. Understanding business strategy, finding collaborative ways of working, new markets, new enterprises, new business structures and proactive succession planning are all part of this, as well as having a real understanding what is genuinely happening in the business today. A “brutal fact” that many don’t want to face up to.

Given this challenging backdrop, Strutt & Parker was delighted to be one of the main supporters of the CLA’s Rural Business Conference, “Redefining Farming”.

This followed a series of seminars held over the summer of 2017 which were also delighted to support. We have a written a summary of the report, which we hope stimulates change.

Our summary covers the following topics:

  • At a glance
  • The challenges for the farming sector
  • The opportunities for the farming sector
  • The business of farming – how it looks today
  • Investing in people
  • Innovation through collaboration
  • Innovation through new ways of working
  • Innovation through new environmental markets
  • So is the farming sector Brexit-ready?
  • Unlocking potential – the action points

You can read the full report here, or our summary here.