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What can British farmers learn from Australian agriculture?

With Brexit looming Brown&Co is heading to Australia where farming without direct subsidy is the norm. But how did it come to embark on this venture?

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What can British farmers learn from Australian agriculture?

Simon Wearmouth, a partner of Brown&Co and Agricultural Business Consultant, based in Norwich, said the idea was sparked in 2016.

 

"I initially got chatting to an Australian relative at a wedding not long after the referendum and mentioned that I was thinking about flying a Kiwi over to speak to clients about farming without subsidy," he said.

 

"He quickly jumped at the opportunity of promoting his own consultant who advises him with his own business back home highlighting the fact that Australia farms in a world without subsidy."

 

David Heinjus, director of Rural Directions, was the agricultural consultant he had in mind. David is based near Adelaide. The business has other offices across South Australia and New South Wales.

 

With the view of flying David to the UK, Simon successfully made contact with Rural Directions. David and his wife Sarah came over to deliver a series of seminars entitled ‘A View from Down Under’ in November 2016. The seminars were well received and the farmers who attended were inspired by what they heard and the different approach taken.


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To follow up from this contact and, in order to retain close relations with Rural Directions, Simon initiated the concept of an exchange programme where one staff member from each firm would spend a month in the shoes of a counterpart on the other side of the world.

 

The idea being to share knowledge and experience to the advantage of both firms.

 

George Lane has been selected for the exchange. He will gain an insight to different challenges within agriculture and be able to relay his experience to the rest of the firm on his return.

 

George joined Brown & Co in November 2014 after graduating from Harper Adams University where he studied Agriculture with Farm Business Management.

SELECTED: George Lane
SELECTED: George Lane

With roots in Leicestershire, growing up on a mixed family farm, George has a broad knowledge and experience in agriculture. He has also worked on a number of large arable farms in the UK and completed his placement year attributing to his degree on a large mixed estate in Northamptonshire.

 

Now based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, George specialises in contract farming agreements, budgeting and cashflow management, machinery and labour costings, environmental schemes and basic payment scheme.

 

Although George mainly deals with arable businesses, he has a strong interest and involvement in the livestock sector, making him the livestock specialist in the Bury St Edmunds office.

 

Rural Directions will be getting George involved with a range of businesses across South Australia, so he can witness the challenges farmers in the area face and the methods which Rural Directions use to overcome these difficulties.

 

 

In South Australian farming, land arrangements, leasing and share farming models typically play a minor part. George has been tasked with investigating whether UK models, such as contract farming agreements can be applied in order to reduce costs and increase profits.

 

When selected for the exchange George said: "I am looking forward to seeing agriculture from a different perspective. It will be interesting to see how the challenges which farmers in Australia face differ from those that we encounter.

 

"Equally, if there are similar challenges, how strategies or methods for tackling these challenges in Australia may vary from those we use in the UK."

 

George will investigate how Australian farmers keep their unit costs down, in order to produce a report which can be used to aid UK farming businesses going forward through the uncertainty of Brexit.

 

He continued: "This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about how the agricultural industry in Australia thrives with no direct subsidy. As the UK adopts the new Agricultural Bill, I hope that I will gain an understanding of methods which we can apply to the sector in the UK."

 

  • We will be following George’s trip as he blogs for Farmers Guardian over the coming weeks.
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