My wife Angie and I started farming in Mid-Sussex in 1977 with 20 heifers. We built up the numbers to 140 cows by 1998 at which point we either had to increase numbers to 250 or sell the cows. We made the decision to sell the cows as our children had other interests, the future of dairy farmers did not look brilliant and my wife had 5 years earlier started an outdoor toy business which had quickly become successful and which I was becoming more involved with. Alongside the toy business we started contract-rearing heifers for another dairy farmer and we now rear between 160 and 180 heifers from 3 months to 23 months each year. Being on the Weald, this is definitely a grass farm.
As a director I am often told that the greatest strength of the group is the relationship built up with the staff in the office.
As a smaller member I recognise the strength of the buying power of purchasing through the group compared to trying to buy individually.
I am an enthusiastic member of Southern Farmers and recognise the importance of the group’s ability to buy at a good price and yet still enable you to purchase from your local supplier, and in the current economic climate it is probably more important than ever to have strong local buying groups.