How to thrive, not just survive: Farming Conference

09 January 2024 - Nick Banks

“We are excited to be working with Fram Farmers and Suffolk Agricultural Association to host the Farming Conference 2024,” said Nick Banks, Head of Agriculture and Farming at Scrutton Bland. “This event is a unique opportunity for farmers to come together, meet and hear from industry experts, and engage in robust debate around how to thrive in the face of the opportunities and challenges confronting the sector.

The Farming Conference is a must-attend event for any farmer who is serious about thriving in today’s challenging environment. The conference offers a wealth of information and insights on the latest trends and best practices in finance, talent and training, and digital innovation.”

The conference will begin with a welcome from Bill Baker, Suffolk Agricultural Association Chairman, shortly followed by the headline guest speaker, Henry Dimbleby MBE, the co-founder, and former CEO of Leon restaurants and lead on the Government commissioned review of the food system the National Food Strategy.

We talk to Nick Banks, Andrew Knowles from Fram Farmers and Phillip Ainsworth from Suffolk Agricultural Association to find out more about the event.

What is the theme of this year’s conference and why was it chosen?

Andrew Knowles: The theme of the Farming Conference this year is “How to Thrive, Not Just Survive.” Farmers face several challenges which are well publicised, and we want the Farming Conference to inspire attendees to confront these head on see the opportunities that are also out there.

Economic volatility, climate change, labour shortages and ever changing regulation forces farmers to consider how they use technology, how they attract and retain staff and how they structure and future proof their businesses. We have created this event to help farmers tackle these issues and position themselves to thrive.

Nick, you will be chairing the Finance section of the event, what can attendees expect to hear about?

Nick Banks: Following Henry’s session, we will hear talks on farm funding issues with Grace O’Dwyer, Deputy Head of Agriculture at HSBC, Global Macroeconomics with Marc Otswald, Chief Economist and Global Strategist at ADM and a conversation with Paul Harris, my fellow partner at Scrutton Bland around what changes to the tax regime might mean to farmers in practice, under a Conservative, or a Labour Government. The session will be really interesting for attendees as we explore some of the financial challenges that farmers face and speculate on what the future may hold. They’ll be an opportunity for guests to ask questions and challenge our speakers views and we’re hopeful for a lively debate.

Stephen Jacob from The Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture will be chairing the second section of the conference and will be discussing the importance of talent and training in the agricultural industry. What will be explored?

Phillip Ainsworth: As part of the Talent and Training session guests will hear from Anthony Gardiner, Communications Director at G’s Fresh, as he talks about Labour Review, Tom Halton from Cheshire Dairy Farmers, who will be discussing the important topic of attracting and retaining staff.

We’re also going to hear from Elizabeth Tree, a graduate from Harper Adams University. Elizabeth is not from a farming background but has chosen a career in agriculture, and will share valuable insight what the future work force of the sector is looking for in terms of their roles, career paths and incentivisation.

Belinda Clarke from Agri-Tech E will be chairing the third section of the conference where speakers will explore Digital Innovations and the future of farming in more detail. Can you tell us more about the discussions that will take place?

Andrew Knowles: Dr Belinda Clarke is the Director of Agri-TechE, Europe’s largest commercial membership network connecting farmers and growers with researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors and will be leading our Digital and Innovations session. Guest speakers for this session include James Forrest, who runs a large arable business and has had to grapple with how to turn the endless data in his business into useful management information.

We’ll also hear from Kevin Gooding, from Diometer who provides solutions to challenges with handling data, and Andrew Williams from Home Farm Nacton who will share insights into how Home Farm have automated and brought robots onto the farm.

How do those interested sign up to attend?

Nick Banks: If you are interested in finding out more about the event or registering to attend the event at Trinity Park Ipswich, please click here or call the Scrutton Bland Events team on 01473 945928 or email

The event is free to attend and we have an amazing list of speakers who are coming along to share their knowledge and expertise – in short, it’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and network!

Although the event is free to attend, we are kindly asking attendees to make a donation to YANA, a rural mental health support charity, to help support the fantastic work they are doing in and around the county.

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