Farm Business Updates

CLA East Rural Adviser Andrew Marriott provides a summary of these recent events
Essex FBU - 2024
Toby Simpson speaking at the Writtle Farm Business Update

The 2024 Farm Business Updates recently drew to a close after seven successful events took place across the East throughout January and early February.

The events were organised in partnership with Anglian Water, NFU, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Essex and Suffolk Water, Environment Agency, Affinity Water, and Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF).

The sessions explored the latest grant and funding opportunities available to the farming sector as the UK continues its march away from area-based payments under BPS, into the new world of “public money for public good”. CSF discussed how farms can deliver for water and air quality from agri-environment schemes, and FWAG highlighted the role agri-environment schemes can play in increasing biodiversity.

Attendees were fortunate to be joined by excellent guest speakers who covered a range of fascinating and thought-provoking topics arising from their own farm enterprises, life experiences and academic endeavours. Special thanks to Glenn Buckingham, Jamie Lockhart, Toby Simpson, Ben Hunt, Vicky Robinson, and Jonny Crickmore for their support, plus all seven chairs: Andrew Mahon, Caroline Ratcliff, Patrick Barker, Stuart Roberts, Tom Jewers, David White, and Louis Baugh.

A real strength of these annual events is their focus on local issues, particularly with regard to water quality matters. Catchment advisers from Anglian Water, Essex and Suffolk Water, and Affinity Water brought attendees up to speed with the latest water sampling data, highlighting trends in the presence (or decline), in various plant protection and ag-chem products across their respective catchments.

Colleagues from the Environment Agency were also on hand to demystify the Agency’s approach to on-farm inspections and demonstrate best practice to ensure farm businesses remain compliant with the rules and regulations surrounding environmental protection.

With Biodiversity Net Gain now mandatory for most major developments in England, the CLA highlighted the opportunities this new planning requirement could present for landowners seeking alternative income streams from their natural capital assets.

The NFU provided an extremely valuable update on current and future Defra schemes, including the actions businesses need to take to receive de-linked payments, which remain an important part of the current funding landscape.

The Farm Business Updates remain a valuable entry in your diary, be sure to keep an eye out in the autumn for the 2025 dates.