Serving the Farming Industry across the Midlands for 35 Years
Looking at your farm with fresh eyes can spark new ideas

Looking at your farm with fresh eyes can spark new ideas

The cost of living crisis is creating diversification opportunities for farmers – with more people looking to holiday at home.

More farmers are looking to generate additional income from diversification, said keynote speakers at last month’s Farm Business Innovation event, held on 2-3 November at the Birmingham NEC.

Ian Bell, of peer lending platform Folk2Folk said subdued economy brought great opportunities. “The rise in staycations, the climate emergency, Brexit, levelling up agenda and cost of living crisis all provide opportunities for farmers looking to diversify.”

Dairy farmer and award-winning cheese-maker Jonny Crickmore agreed. Farmers should think about the business prospects offered by their assets – and then consider which made most financial sense.

“If you don’t enjoy it, it’s not going to work,” said Mr Crickmore. “But don’t run before you can walk. Test things out and see what works. Most importantly, never stop learning.”

Leap of faith

Other farmers sharing their first-hand experience of diversification included Ally Hunter Blair, who has equestrian and glamping businesses on his Herefordshire farm. He encouraged fellow farmers to take a leap of faith.

“Use your skillset and learn from your mistakes,” he said. “Don’t see barriers on your farms, see opportunities. Look into your business with fresh eyes.”

William Roobottom outlined the scope for promoting farm-based businesses on social media. He has developed an extensive following through sharing videos about his sheep flock and encouraged farmers to have a go.

“Be honest and be authentic because that is what people want to see.”

Other keynote speakers included Patrick Wrixon who encouraged farmers and landowners to consider care farming. His care farm in Herefordshire provides opportunities for people with mental health problems to benefit from spending time outside.

“Our overall aim is to enable people to reach a point where they can manage their own health in a sustainable way,” he said.

Award winners

The exhibition halls at the Farm Business Innovation event were filled with businesses offering  consultancy and advice services – as well as safari tents and glamping pods, renewable energy solutions, hot tubs and playground equipment.

The event’s annual innovation award was presented to Dairy Vending for its vending machines which enable dairy farmers to produce and sell milkshakes and other products direct from the farm.

Winner of the sustainability award was Inch Perfect Trials – a company which offers trail bike experience days. It is the sole UK retailer of the fully electric EM trials bike. Organiser Nichola Bell, of Agriconnect, said it was a successful event.

“It’s an exciting time for us at Agriconnect too with this being our first year running these events.

As a team we have plenty of ideas on how to make the shows even better next year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to the NEC on 15-16 November 2023.”