After last year’s successful inaugural South East Future of Farming conference at Plumpton College, the event is returning for its second year on Thursday 17 April.

Sponsors the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and Virgin Money are again partnering with the college to host this exciting event in the smart surroundings of Plumpton’s new Agrifood Centre.

Keynote speakers and workshops at the event, which will run from 3pm to 7pm, will provide practical solutions for farmers and landowners, with a focus on driving productivity and profitability in a sustainable way.

Boasting a dedicated agricultural team, Virgin Money has a long history of supporting the agricultural sector across the South East. Justin Ellis, agricultural business manager with Virgin Money, explained: “Our agricultural industry is operating in one of the most challenging periods for generations. While farmers continue to produce food, there is unprecedented change in climate, policy and consumer attitudes in how we grow, process and market our produce.

“There has never been a time where we need to be closer to our consumers and have both the desire and skills to adapt our food production methods while enhancing nature and the environment. The 2024 Future of Farming Conference will showcase inspiring stories of those already showing leadership to help the industry move forwards.”

The conference will be chaired by Emily Norton, Norfolk-based farmer and independent rural policy and strategy advisor. She will be joined by the following keynote speakers:

  • Lord Deben, former chair of the UK’s Independent Committee on Climate Change:
    How farmers can adapt to current climatic challenges.
  • Joe Stanley, head of sustainable farming at the Allerton Project:
    How British farmers can be global leaders through an increased focus on regenerative techniques and the adoption of greater technology.
  • Eleanor Gilbert, farmer:
    The challenges and opportunities for young people in farming, the future of farming and the role of social media.
  • Flavian Obiero, farmer, chef and apprentice butcher:
    His inspirational journey through agriculture and his current life as a young tenant farmer.

This will be followed by a panel question and answer session, chaired by Emily Norton, and breakout workshops.

Following the conference itself, delegates will be able to network and enjoy produce from the Plumpton Estate.

The CLA represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses across the South East. Regional director Tim Bamford said: “The CLA is delighted to be supporting this conference once again, after the success of the inaugural event last year.

“With a general election on the horizon, this is a crucial time for farming and the rural economy. We look forward to hearing from a diverse range of experts and case studies focusing on sustainability and productivity, and demonstrating how British farmers are global leaders.”

Tickets for this event are £10, with all the proceeds going to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), which provides guidance, practical care and financial support to those in need within the farming community. The closing deadline for booking tickets is 6pm on Thursday 11 April.

Jeremy Kerswell, principal of hosts Plumpton College, added: “Plumpton has a pivotal role to play in the future of our land-based industries, not only through our training of new entrants but in our work with farmers and landowners. We are delighted to be able to build upon last year’s hugely successful conference in our new Agrifood Centre to enable people to come together, share, learn and take away practical solutions for their own businesses.”

The Agrifood Centre at Plumpton College was opened in 2023 as part of the ongoing development of the college, which was established in 1926 and originally offered agricultural courses. Now a lead player in land and environment education in the region, it has grown to offer 19 different courses including 14+, college-aged courses, apprenticeships, degree courses and adult education. It is about to embark on the final stage of its £20m investment, an institute of technology for animal and veterinary science. 

For further details and to book: Call 01264 358195