Putting community first

Features Posted 26/11/19
The membership-owned buying group proving to farmers across Kent and Sussex that there is much more to being part of a cooperative than getting good deals and making savings.

Increasing political uncertainty continues to plague long-term decision making in the agricultural industry, driving farmers and rural businesses to not only keeping a closer eye on spending, but to actively seek out where savings can be made. For the RAMSAK Group’s 600 members all of this is taken care of by the group’s dedicated team who work tirelessly to ensure all members have access to the best products and services, at the best prices, across a full range of agricultural amenities, including construction and plant hire, chemicals and fertilisers, forage and fuels.

Offering an extensive list of supplies, boosting buying power, price checking and saving members money and time is an essential part of the cooperative’s day-to-day role. Yet, RAMSAK Group manager Karen Wheeler believes that in the challenging years to come, the group’s remit will extend much further.

“Many people consider buying groups as just that, a convenient and cost-effective way to buy and sell products and services,” said Karen. “However, we are not just here to help members look after the bottom line. From our roots as a local machinery ring, the RAMSAK ethos has always been centred on bringing the rural community together. Being part of a supportive and well-connected group of like-minded individuals and businesses is going to be vital as we all try to navigate through, and survive in, an uncertain post-Brexit world.”

Focused on providing farmers, growers, contractors and suppliers alike with access to a friendly, reliable, knowledgeable and tightknit network of peers, Karen believes that the RAMSAK Group offers that unprecedented value to its members far beyond the traditional cooperative simply offering financial benefits.

Best in the business

Supporting farmers and bringing everyone in the industry together, has inspired the RAMSAK Group to get involved in a number of agriculturally beneficial initiatives, such as the new AgriSouth show.

The free to attend one day event will be held on 14 May 2020 at Faversham Showground. Held in partnership with NIAB TAG, and benefitting from the RAMSAK team’s extensive knowledge and experience of event management, AgriSouth will play host to a range of field-based arable demonstrations and trials.

The inaugural event will focus on research, technical development and innovation, as well as supplies and services, by showcasing the very latest machinery and equipment, and the myriad of professional services available for agricultural businesses.

The events branch of RAMSAK, Pitchfork Events is once again hosting the annual Farmers’ Ball and Farming Awards. Now in its fourth year, the evening is a chance to celebrate the best in the business through the awards scheme. Impressive funds are raised for charity, and with farms and rural businesses coming together for the festive season, it offers valuable networking opportunities too.

It is thought that RAMSAK is the only agricultural cooperative in the country to be actively organising industry shows, charitable events and taking the time to officially recognise those working in the industry.

In a bid to include as many farmers as possible, the award’s categories cover arable farmer of the year, livestock farmer of the year, dairy farmer of the year, family farming business of the year, fruit grower/vineyard of the year, and, a new category for 2019, agricultural event of the year.

A record number of nominations were received this year, which is credit to the increasing popularity of the event, and a panel of specialist judges were given the task of choosing the winners. As well as looking for farmers who truly represent their sector, judges wanted to find those who have a willingness to share best practices with others; who have ideas for the future and are a source of inspiration and innovation; who are keen to trial unique practices; or who are truly passionate, dedicated and hard-working.

The winners, which will appear in the January 2020 edition of South East Farmer, will be announced on Saturday 30 November 2019 at the High Rocks, Tunbridge Wells. Tickets for the popular annual event, which moved to the new location last year, sold out rapidly. On the evening, welcome drinks will be followed by a four-course meal, DJ, charity auction and raffle to raise money for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust, RAMSAK’s charity of the year.

“The ball is really an opportunity for everyone to catch up, perhaps do some business and celebrate the winners of the Farming Awards, well after harvest and before the rush of Christmas,” said Karen. “We want to keep things relaxed and enjoyable, so the dress code is still country attire. We don’t want farmers to feel like they have to come in formal black tie so are hoping for plenty of dresses paired with wellies and full tweed again.”


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