The organiser of this new event, the Kent County Agricultural Society, is the county’s leading agricultural charity, supporting education and improvement in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and related industries since its foundation in 1923.
As well as its headline event, the Kent County Show, the society organises free educational and trade events throughout the year and supports farmers and rural education through its various grants, awards and the Kent Rural Scholarship Scheme.
In the past few years, the Society has successfully established Farm Expo, a free trade show and networking event for the farming industry, showcasing national and international providers of machinery, supplies and services for the agricultural trade.
The one-day event also hosts seminars on the industry’s trending topics, such as diversification, sustainability and the future of farming. In its first year, Farm Expo welcomed over 2,500 visitors from the county’s farming community and its exclusive seminars attracted large crowds, often leaving standing room only.
Hoping to build on the success of Farm Expo, the Kent Farming Conference will draw further upon key industry topics faced by farmers today, including regenerative farming, the Environmental Land Management scheme, the Basic Payments Scheme and reducing carbon footprints.
James Forknall, Chairman of the Kent County Agricultural Society, said: “The UK farming industry contributes £120 million to the British economy and produces 64% of the food eaten here, but it’s been a very turbulent couple of years for those with farming businesses.
“Farmers have had to deal with everything from post-Brexit labour shortages through to the Covid-19 pandemic, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and this year’s CO2 and fuel crises. Meanwhile with the cost of fertiliser, diesel, and electricity at an all-time high, input costs for farmers can only be described as crippling.
“On top of the current unpredictable state of affairs, farmers must also navigate debates on sustainability, environmentally friendly practices and emerging new technologies. Now, more than ever, we need to lend our support to Kent’s agricultural workers and business owners, and I hope The Kent Farming Conference will be a valuable annual resource.”
General Manager of the Kent County Agricultural Society, Nikki Dorkings, said: “The Society is committed to delivering new ideas and innovative technologies to the farming and agricultural industry and is delighted to be able to add The Kent Farming Conference to its charitable remit. This is an exciting new opportunity to connect with the agricultural community and revolutionise the future of farming in Kent.”
The evening will kick off at 6pm at the Kent Showground, with guests being welcomed with light refreshments from local producers. For those unable to attend inperson, the conference will also be streamed online.
The Kent Farming Conference is a free event for farmers and agricultural workers. More information and registration details can be found at: www.kacs.org.uk/the-kent-farming-conferencek
The Society is delighted to be joined by a panel of exclusive guest speakers who are experienced in the farming industry:
Andrew Barr – Partner at A&A Barr Farms and KCAS Director
Andrew, a recent finalist for Arable Farmer in Farmers Weekly, is a regenerative farming pioneer who has slashed his costs without seeing a dip in yields. Two years ago, Andy’s combine harvester recorded double digit yields on a block of land no one else wanted to rent. Andrew will be speaking about his journey and the results he’s achieved.
John Pawsey – Chairman of Shimpling Park Farms Ltd
John’s family has farmed in Suffolk for four generations. In 1999, John started converting the family farm to organic production. Now the family’s aim is to use modern technology to control weeds, pests and diseases without the use of pesticides and build fertility naturally using legumes and green manures, keeping soil in good heart for future generations.
James Smith – Managing Director, Loddington Farm
In 2016, James was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship, enabling him to discover ways to grow fruit for the UK market that could be profitable. James was later encouraged to start a programme of self-education to see how growers can produce better food. It was the beginning of a journey in food production using nature instead of chemistry in farming systems.
Grace O’Dwyer – HSBC Regional Agriculture Director
Since completing her Masters’ degree in crop production, Grace has spent 25 years working alongside food and farming businesses, working for agribusiness Syngenta, the NFU, food safety business NSF and now HSBC Bank UK. Grace joined HSBC in 2017 to work in a well-established agriculture team across the UK. She now leads HSBC’s activities in the agriculture sector in the South of England.