The Rural Policy Group team was delighted to be back at the Kent Showground for the 88th National Fruit Show this week; with RPG founding partner MHA MacIntyre Hudson, who made their debut appearance at the show despite a long-standing involvement with farming and agri-business. The Show has remained true to its founding principle – to showcase the quality of British produce – and this year debuted the new crimson-inside Kissabel variety of apple.
It was a busy two days for the team. Vice Chair Sarah Calcutt has been the National Fruit Show Chair for the past 11 years, including overseeing the show’s first virtual event during last year’s lockdown, and this year establishing a conference on opening day, Wednesday 20th October.
Innovation has been a constant theme at the show. Innovation within the fresh produce supply chain to meet consumer demand. Innovation within the industry to operate more sustainably and positively contribute to environmental recovery. Innovation in productivity and efficiency. Innovation in partnership with government and other policymakers to build a more sustainable, more just and more ambitious food system; one which works for the people who work within it, society and planet.
Rural Policy Group hosted the afternoon conference session which was sponsored by Whitehead Monckton: How can farmers go green when they are in the red? Chairman Mark Lumdson-Taylor was joined by Teresa Wickham, President of the National Fruit Show, Rt. Hon Sir Richard Needham, former Trade Minister, James Smith, regenerative farmer at Loddington Farm and Kirk Siderman-Wolter, COO at Agri Epi Centre.
This interesting discussion delved into achieving the conditions for financial sustainability as a platform for investing in progress and environmental sustainability. While there is much to work on systemically to better support Britain’s food and farming sector, James Smith, 5th generation farmer and owner of Loddington Farm was an inspiring example of how to turn around a farm business and reignite one’s passion for growing.
His model of diversification, retaining more of the crop’s value-added, exploring different models of farming and forming a closer connection with the consumer is an approach which could help farmers who are considering their future in the idustry, as James was a few short years ago.
Being able to attend the show in-person was a great opportunity to meet with friends old and new. We were thrilled to meet Victoria Prentis, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an apple grower’s daughter. Rural Policy Group Founder & Chairman Mark Lumsdon-Taylor and Sarah Dodds, Head of Agriculture at MHA presented the Minister with a copy of our recently launched Green Futures report.
The report elucidates the linkages between food, health and environment; establishing the rationale for a rural-first approach to sustainable economic policy for a Green UK plc, which would support sustainability gains within the agriculture, food and farming industry, enable land-owning businesses to provide environmental services to power the wider economy and give impetus to levelling up rural communities.
The Show also provided an opportunity for partners in MHA’s Agriculture and Rural Business team, including Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, from the practice’s Kent and Peterborough offices, to chat with fruit clients and raise awareness of their specialisms in accountancy, audit, tax and business advice. As the UK member of Baker Tilley International, MHA combines a personal approach which might involve meeting with clients in their farmhouse, with a global reach which enables them to co-ordinate advisory services for parent and subsidiary across international boundaries.