Agricultural merchant follows Tesco with loyalty card scheme

East Anglian agricultural merchant Cropco has followed Tesco by copying the supermarket giant’s successful loyalty card scheme.

Any farmer buying Seed Plus seed from the merchant this season will qualify for points that can later be redeemed against a range of options, including agrochemicals or fertiliser supplied by the firm, services such as waste recycling, or even gifts, according to John Poulton, Cropco’s managing director.

“We want to give something back to growers, there will be a substantial loyalty reward,” he said.

The scheme will initially only run for seed purchases, but Cropco hopes to extend it to other parts of his business, including agchems in the future.

Full details of what rewards will be available and how much seed would need to be purchased to qualify for them have not been released as yet.

The loyalty card is part of the firm’s Seed Plus offering, which aims to provide high quality seed sourced from Daltons of Peterborough on a guaranteed delivery date.

“If we fail to meet an agreed delivery date we will cut the price of the seed by 50%,” Mr Poulton said.

Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year James Peck welcomed Mr Poulton’s pledge. “It’s no good if the seed isn’t on farm in time,” he said. “We drill in blocks and don’t want to be going back for 40 acres.”

The firm will also offer variety advice to its customers through independent variety consultant Richard Fenwick.

“Seed Plus will help provide the information to make sure growers choose the correct variety for their farm,” he said.

Source: Farmers Weekly International

Farming’s entrepreneurs take control

Entrepreneurs are people with guts, ambition and commitment, according to key speakers from The Future’s In Your Hands event.

Matthew Naylor, who grows potatoes and flowers for major retailers in south Lincolnshire, told delegates: “The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur is all about control. Business people analyse the status quo and try and profit from it. Entrepreneurs take control of the situation and try and make things happen on their own terms.”

“I have made loads of mistakes over the years, all with my own money. Some people will try something and fail. It’s about dusting yourself down, deciding where you went wrong and trying again.”

Ian Kenny, head of agricultural policy at NatWest added: “Cash, capital and character are what the banks are looking for with start-ups but character is key. Have you got the flair, the fire and passion to make it work?”

“There is no rule book. If you have a hunch simply go and do it. It’s the only way you will learn,” said Will Chase, founder of Tyrrells Crisps.

“My advice is: be enthusiastic and passionate, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do your research, have a ten-year plan, and work hard.” – James Peck, managing director, P.X. Farms, and 2006 FW Young Farmer of the Year.

Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive

James Peck is named…

…the Firestone Young Farmer of the Year at the Farmers Weekly Awards 2006

James, Peck, the Managing Director of P.X. Farms Ltd., has been named as the Firestone Young Farmer of the Year 2006 at an awards ceremony in London.

Why he won:

James Peck is a young man on a mission. His goal is as simple as it is ambitious: To increase his contracted farmed area to 2500ha (6175 acres) within seven years.

James Peck

Three years after launching his own farming company PX Farms, 30-year-old James is well on course to achieving his goal. He has built a business which includes contract farming over 890ha(2190 acres) for eight landowners plus contract field work for 32 customers over a further 809ha (1998 acres). That is in addition to running the home unit of Scotland Farm, Dry Drayton.

It is an expansion fuelled by his intuitive understanding of machinery management, commitment to recruiting and retaining the best people and his almost compulsive desire to cut the best deals possible.

“The right machinery, staff management, communication with customers and reliability are crucial to running a successful contracting business,” says James. So when he took over the family’s Scotland Farm, after his father decided to pursue interests outside farming, he began with a machinery sale. James is a man brimming not just with enthusiasm for machinery, but a passion to run it at maximum efficiency and minimum cost. “The sale allowed us to cut down on duplicated machinery and raise much needed capital for the new business of PX Farms,” says James.

His fleet today includes a Claas Lexion combine, Claas 55 tracklayer, Vaderstad Rapid drill and a Bateman RB25-36m sprayer

It is impressive firepower that has allowed James to expand his contract area while cutting costs and lifting yields.

Growing only first wheats with a break crop of oilseed rape has helped to improve blackgrass control and cut herbicide bills. Growing costs have been cut to £54/t for wheat and £132/t on oilseed rape, while average yields have climbed to 10.5t/ha and 3.65t/ha, respectively, supported by his use of large-scale machinery.

But any machine is only as good as the person who operates it – a fact recognised in the attention to detail James pays to staff selection and management. “I couldn’t manage without self motivated, first-class staff.”

Conservation as well as curbing costs feature in James’ farming approach. As part of the entry-level stewardship scheme, buffer strips have been installed on all headlands near water. Grass strips allow hedge cutting and ditch maintenance to be carried out on a two-year cycle which makes effective use of farm machinery and encourages biodiversity.

James is keen to support the local community by hosting school visits to Scotland Farm. And his can-do attitude has impressed Anglia TV producers, who regularly ask him to comment on farming topics.

Runner up:

Andrew Mahon, Charlton Farms, Oxfordshire – a young man with responsibilities, management acumen, and attitude that belie his 30 years.

Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive

Young entrepreneurs bullish…

…about future of agriculture.

The younger generation that will bring about the big changes in farming is ambitious, willing to take risks and already thinking outside the box.

That was the confident message from 80 young men and women at The Future’s In Your Hands conference, held at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, on 1 May. 

The event was organised by the Red Meat Industry Forum and supported by Farmers Weekly in a bid to kick start a stronger focus on young entrepreneurs nationally.

All of the delegates were starting out or already running businesses. Two striking differences between young and older farmers was the keenness of the former to operate without subsidies and to share their good and bad experiences warts and all.

Farmers Weekly columnist and speaker, Matthew Naylor, who has a expanding flower and potato business, began farming when aged 15 and admitted that he had made lots of mistakes with his own money. “The difference between an entrepreneur and a businessman is all about control,” he said. “Business skills can be taught – it’s a science. Entrepreneurialism is an art, it’s about passion, it’s not about following the rule book. You need, confidence, courage and conviction.”

James Peck, FW’s 2006 Young Farmer of the Year, runs a successful contracting and grain storage business. He explained why his employees benefit from BUPA healthcare, a pension scheme, performance-related bonuses and 30 days holiday a year. Employees are one of your biggest assets. You have to choose the right staff and invest in them,” he said.

And Will Chase, founder of Tyrells Crisps, spoke of his long journey to profitability and urged young farmers to be their own person. Tyrells is looking for young people to join the business which in future may include producing potato vodka as well as crisps. Finding people with character is important. We are always looking for managers who will go the whole nine yards and can see the bigger picture,” he said. “If you have a good idea for a new business, think cash, capital and character. These are the three attributes the banks will be looking for when investing in start up,” he added.

Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive