For James Peck, Firestone Young Farmer of the Year in 2006, the chance to run the show came early. After graduating from Writtle at 23, James headed back to the family’s arable farm in Cambridgeshire with a clear sense that he wanted to farm, but never imagining he would be running his own business by his mid-twenties.
It was his father Adrian’s decision to devote himself to his diversification into property development that provided the trigger. James remembers the moment well. “I was 26 and my father brought me into the office and said he wanted to put the farm out on contract. I was shocked, really shocked. Either I took the plunge or had to face the idea of someone else managing the farm.” James took the plunge, along with plenty of professional advice, and set up P.X. Farms, a limited company that he owns in full.
James has never looked back and the business now farms some 5,000 acres through a variety of agreement types. By forging innovative partnerships with other operators, it has recently expanded into grain storage and haulage.
“I’m all for having a business plan, but you never know what opportunities the next year will bring and you have to run with them. I honestly never envisaged I’d be running a grain store alongside the contract farming.”
Mulling over why things have worked out so well, James is the first to admit that his father has been a key factor. “Father was my agricultural bible. I couldn’t have done it without him. At the same time, it was important that he was free to get on with his own thing and didn’t have to carry the risks of my business.”