Choosing the right path for your business:

Specialise or Diversify

John Innes
Conference Centre,
Thursday 13th
February 2020

Conference Videos

Conference Papers

Andrew Greenwell

Farm Manager Capel St Andrew Farms

Brian Barker

E J Barker & Sons

Crister Stark

Chairman, Vaderstad Holding AB

David Hoyles

Farm Director, GH Hoyles

Doug Field

Joint Chief Executive of the East of England Co-op and Chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

Dr Francisco Areal

Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the Centre for Rural Economy, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Paul Forecast and Patrick Begg

Outdoors and Natural Resources Director and East of England Regional Director of National Trust

Will Sargent

H P & B K Sargent & Partners

Meet the speakers

Peter Kendall

Peter Kendall is a fifth generation arable farmer from Eyeworth in East Bedfordshire. Peter farms cereals in partnership with his brother, Richard, and their mother.  Peter took a degree in Agricultural Economics at Nottingham University before returning in 1984,  to what was a traditional mixed farm.  Today, the farm is a specialist arable unit that undertakes contract farming for a number of local farmers, cropping in total 2300 hectares.

Peter was appointed Chairman of AHDB in 2014, having been President of the NFU for the previous 8 years.


Peter received a Knighthood for his services to the agricultural industry in England and Wales in the Queen’s 2015 New Year’s Honours.

Patrick Begg

Patrick is the National Trust’s Outdoors and Natural Resources Director and leads the Trust’s thinking on the wider countryside. This includes how thhey manage some of the Nation’s most naturally and culturally rich landscapes; the experiences and inspiration the outdoors can provide; and how farming can change to meet the challenges of a post-Brexit world. He is also national lead on climate change, including energy use and generation, wider adaptation strategies and pressures on natural resource use.

Previously in the National Trust he led on rural enterprise issues and has fulfilled senior operational roles including Regional Director and Area Manager. Patrick has also headed up the organisation’s Policy and Planning function and continues to play a leading role in national policy advocacy work around farming, climate change, soils and water.

With his background originally in archaeology, Patrick brings a broad range of conservation passions and experience, which span nature, culture and economics. Patrick takes his conservation passions home with him and blends a love of the outdoors with enthusiasm for as many sports as possible.

Paul Forecast

Following a childhood obsession for the outdoors Paul Forecast has enjoyed a thirty-year career in the conservation sector. Paul studied forestry, wildlife and environmental management and is currently the Regional Director for the National Trust in the East of England.

 The National Trust was founded on the simple and enduring idea that people need historic, beautiful and natural places.  Paul has worked for the National Trust for five years, staring off as an Assistant Director of Operations, before being promoted to Regional Director.

Paul leads a team covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. This portfolio comprises 10,000 hectares of land across fifty properties comprising iconic landscapes, historic buildings, coastline, and nature reserves.

Prior to joining the National Trust, Paul worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for sixteen years, with his most recent role being Regional Director in the East of England. During his time with the RSPB, Paul was involved in many advisory projects to help farmers protect the wildlife on their farms.

In his spare time Paul likes to keep fit by running, triathlons and attempting to keep up with his wife and five-year-old daughter.

Doug Field

Owned by its members, over 280,000 of them, the East of England Co-operative Society is the largest independent retail business in East Anglia with more than 200 trading outlets located in over 70 towns and villages throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.   As Joint CEO of the East of England Co-op Doug protects and nurtures the member’s legacy for this generation and the next.

Doug is passionate about living and working in the East and delighted to be able to use his skills and expertise as Chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to drive economic growth for the UK’s clean growth region.

Melinda Raker

Melinda Raker is involved with her family farming business on the Norfolk/Suffolk border together with her husband and two sons. She is an innovative fundraiser and has held roles with National and Regional Charities for over 30 years.  In 2008 she set up YANA for The Clan Trust Charity.  YANA provides confidential support, funding for counselling,  and mental health awareness for farming and rural businesses.

Melinda is also involved with East Anglian Air Ambulance, The Norfolk Heart Trust, The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and is a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk. 

Francisco Areal

Francisco Areal is a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the Centre for Rural Economy, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Previously Francisco worked as Associate Professor in Environmental Economics 2017-2019 and Lecturer of Environmental Economics at the University of Reading 2011-2017. Previously he worked at the Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, Spain and at the Central Science Laboratory in York (currently known as the Food and Environment Research Agency –FERA-).

Francisco joined the Centre for Rural Economy at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences in 2019. Francisco’s research focuses on the interaction between agriculture, the environment, economics and society by applying statistical and econometric methods to answer questions of policy relevance for agriculture and the environment. More specifically, Francisco’s research has covered five main areas: farm efficiency analysis, performance of genetically modified (GM) crops and evaluation of coexistence policies, sustainability, food security and development, and consumer behaviour in food consumption. Francisco is currently working on analysing farm diversification in England and Wales, identifying opportunities, its wider impact to society and policy implications. Francisco’s is also currently working on developing farm sustainability indicators.

Crister Stark

Crister Stark, Chairman of the board, Väderstad Group

Crister is the eldest of four siblings, all of whom play leading roles in the Väderstad Group.

Crister has been working in the company in all his professionally active years. He is deeply involved in new farming methods and product creation, as well as development of new production processes and techniques. Crister’s knowledge of farming practices and farm equipment technology has proven instrumental in making Väderstad AB one of Europe’s leading farm equipment manufacturers specialising in seeding, planting and tillage.

Väderstad AB is a family owned company with humble beginnings as a farm workshop. Today, it operates in 40 countries, including wholly-owned subsidiaries in 14 countries. The Väderstad Group consists of Väderstad AB, Vaderstad Industries Inc., Väderstad Components AB and Väderstad Farm AB..

David Hoyles

Having started my school life in Norfolk and then Nottinghamshire, I then graduated from Newcastle University in 1996 with a degree in Agriculture.  After 6 months travelling Down Under, I joined Management Development Services (MDS) on their 2 year management training programme.  In 1999 I joined G’s Fresh in their fresh produce marketing department as accounts manager, and then sales manager.
In 2005 I joined the family business G.H.Hoyles Ltd, aged 30, and looked to gain practical and professional experience.  I completed my BASIS and FACTS courses, and completed the Worshipful Company of Farmers Advanced Business Management course.
G.H.Hoyles Ltd is a fourth generation 700ha farm close to The Wash, of which 200ha is rented in on FBT’s.  Cropping includes potatoes, beetroot, vining peas, sugarbeet, wheat and mustard, with land rented out for veg production.  The business has three main enterprises; crop production, renewable energy production and water management.  The farm supplies local business, co-operatives and packhouses with 14,000t of fresh produce and combinable crops.  The family has invested in environmental schemes such as Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship and is LEAF certified.
I am Chairman of Nene Potatoes, a Director of Holbeach Marsh Cooperative (HMC) Pea Group and a committee member of Holbeach Marsh Training Group.

Will Sargent

Will Sargent runs a 2,000 acre farm in south Norfolk alongside his uncle Christopher. They grow combinable crops including wheat, barley, rye, oats and oilseed rape as well as the renewable energy crop miscanthus.
The other major part of the farming operation is the duck rearing business. Will farms 49,000 ducks for Gressingham Foods, through which he also supplies Waitrose.

Will grew up on the farm watching his father David run the business alongside his uncle, but despite helping out when he was younger, farming wasn’t the first career he chose.
After leaving University where he read Archaeology, he decided to focus on Journalism. From there he went on to work for The Times and later moved on to become a reporter and producer for Sky News.
During his time in journalism he covered general elections, a royal birth and later on became a technology reporter.

But when Will’s father was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2016, he decided to give up his career in journalism and go into farming.

Will documented his career change in a monthly column for the Farmers Weekly called ‘Will’s Way’ and he occasionally appears on TV and radio shows commenting on farming issues.

Andrew Greenwell

Andrew Greenwell is 36 years old and is running Capel St Andrew Farms near Woodbridge. Having grown up on the family farm and being involved from a young age he has a genuine passion for farming.

Andrew studied a degree in Agriculture at Newcastle University. After graduating in 2005 and also spending two winters working in Australia on both sheep and cereal farms, Andrew returned to Suffolk to join the family farming business.

Andrew chose to become BASIS and FACTS qualified and in 2009 he started to expand the family business through contract farming, FBTs and buying and renting land. The farm now grows crops on around 1800 Hectares as well as producing cereals, sugar beet, maize and vining peas the business specialises in early carrot, potato and onion crops which utilise the sandy loam soil and its irrigation to its best potential.

Andrew enjoys collaboration with other farmers and working together to achieve better results. Capel St Andrew farms is part of two producer organisations that market all the farms vegetables; and is also a member of Three Musketeers which markets the farms potatoes. With these, Andrew has a genuine interest in pooling information, prototyping and designing new ways to applying inputs and utilising machinery more efficiently.

In the last few years Capel St Andrew farms has invested in its infrastructure with two new reservoirs to help meet water requirements and two new onion stores. Andrew is also environmentally focussed, allowing flora and fauna to thrive by leaving large parts of the farmland untouched and planting bumblebee strips. With the farm’s unique position between forest, rivers and saltings marshes enjoying a huge variety of wildlife.

Capel St Andrew farms supply most of the national supermarkets and food businesses with potatoes, onions and carrots and has contracts with local grain merchants for cereals.

Andrew is Chairman of Three Musketeers and Suffolk Produce, which are farmer led cooperative marketing groups and is also a director of Anglian Pea Growers.

twitter: @CapelStAndrewFm

Brian Barker

Brian runs his family owned farm (533ha) and contracting business. The farm is situated in the clay lands of Mid Suffolk and is farmed with the long term aim to produce high yielding crops without impacting on farmland biodiversity and historical landscape. A traditional but flexible twelve year rotation has always been used, built around Herbage grass seed production integrating both winter and spring crops to reduce the risk associated with intensive farming. A flexible cultivation system has been created, allowing Brian to reduce establishment costs for all crops by 45%. He has always been one to try and experiment with different techniques and ideas, some successful and some not -but if you don’t try, you won’t learn. Brian closely monitors all of his soil and crops; biomass cuts, plant counts and theoretical yield calculations with the view of farming to potential yield and not trying to buy the yield of hope.


The organisers

AF logo smlAF is the largest agricultural buying group in the UK with a buying power in excess of £ 250 million. The organisation is growing rapidly and provides an extensive range of products and services to more than 3500 members. AF's busy trading desks are seen as an extension to the farm office employing specialist buyers to save time and money for members on key farm inputs and other business costs such as electricity, telecommunications and general supplies.

For more information please email or call 01603 881 881.

© 2020 The AF Group Limited | All Rights Reserved | Cookie policy | Privacy policy

Calls are recorded for training and monitoring purposes. Recordings are used for our own purposes only.