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Monitor farm step beyond benchmarking

Farming | Published:

As margins get ever tighter, benchmarking is one of the essentials tools for comparing outputs and monitoring costs across similar farming businesses and being a member of a Monitor Farm group is a further tool which goes beyond just benchmarking and is now considered by many as the route to improve their businesses.

Russell Price, Meurig Raymond and Martin Williams.

Introducing the concept of monitor farms recently to a sizeable group of Herefordshire farmers, Richard Meredith, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager for the area, said they are set up to 'challenge thinking' by analysing and evaluating farm productivity and its financial impact on the ‘bottom line'. When coupled to bench-marking across a Monitor Farm group this is a way of sharing best practice by identifying, comparing and quantifying the strengths and weaknesses of individual members farming businesses, achieved by collecting and breaking the information right down at enterprise levels.

For several years AHDB have been involved with organising Monitor Farms in Herefordshire and recently held a meeting to launch two new Monitor Farmers in the county, Russell Price and Martin Williams. They are forward looking large-scale mainly arable farmers who think outside the box.

“We are willing to stand up and bare our souls and businesses and engage with people,” explained Marin Williams.

During the discussion Mark Woods farm manager at Clay farms, Fawley, the Herefordshire monitor farm during the previous three years, supported the concept of Monitor saying: “we now know where our weaknesses are and think outside the box. We don’t know where the end goal is but concentrate on what we can do.”

The Monitor Farm group of some 15 famers meet several times a year to review and scrutinise the business with other farmers and industry professionals and to hear of new ideas, technologies and innovations and the effect they have had where they have been used on Monitor Farms.

During the discussion which followed, RussellPrice said: “technology will drive businesses and by being a member it’s nice to know where you stand (rank) in the group.” He cited the difficulty of the increasing cost of and retaining labour, while Martin mentioned the need to be different and cost effective.

They both agreed on the need to get nearer to the consumer and Russell added: “we are good at what we do”, quoting Farm Sunday as an example and said: “we need to use looking after the environment as a marketing tool as it is a unique selling point.”

Meurig Raymond, who had taken part in the discussion, told the packed audience at The Green Man that soon after Mr Gove had been appointed as Defra Minister he had had a very long telephone conversation with him, exchanged correspondence since and had met him at the Three Counties Show. The NFU President said he had been impressed at how quickly the minister seems to have got hold of his brief but warned of the unknowns and the likely complications surrounding Brexit.

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