Rural Business Owners Flock to NEC for Farm Business Innovation

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Inspiration was plentiful at Agriconnect’s quartet of rural shows held at the NEC on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 November. Farm Business Innovation, Family Attraction Expo, Leisure Food and Beverage and Holiday Park and Resort Innovation were run concurrently, providing a plethora of exciting new ideas along with appropriate support for rural business owners.


Against a backdrop of uncertainty in many farming businesses due to spikes in input costs and changing government support, Farm Business Innovation provided a springboard for those looking to diversify to gain the necessary information. 


louise newton bidwells speakingIn addition to exhibitor stands, a broad array of speakers and seminar sessions were also on offer to interested visitors. 


The Cleveland Container Theatre was opened on the show’s first day by Louise Newton, associate rural at Bidwells who set the scene for the event. 


She said: “With the loss of BPS there is a need to create alternative sources of income on farm while spreading risk by not relying on primary agricultural production.”


Elsewhere in the CLA Theatre, the organisation’s property and business policy advisor,

avril roberts speakingAvril Roberts, suggested as things stand, only 50 per cent of a farm’s BPS will be recoverable through environmental schemes, again highlighting the role diversified income streams will play moving forward.


Across the two days, exhibitors commented on the quality of audience the show draws, with many remarking on the value of leads gleaned. This paves way for the shows’ rebrand for 2024, which sees the four events merge under one single name - Land, Leisure and Tourism Show. There will be six distinct zones to the show next year, including Farm Business Diversification, to cater for the wide range of exhibitors the event draws.


With an evident appetite by the majority of visitors for alternative land use and diversification, this demand will be further met in the shows’ new format, with more emphasis put on this audience.


Many exhibitors were really enthused by the quality of visitors they greeted, with the majority being forward thinking farmers. Fraser Rutherford, head of marketing at Environment Bank was extremely positive about his exhibitor experience. 


He said: “The show has been really good. We do several events every year, but this show has seen the most leads of any event we have attended this year. There is a real level of interest in diversification, with farmers much more open now to ideas due to changes in the industry.” 


Now in his eighth year as an exhibitor, Chris Otty, regional sales director at expressed his support of the event. 


He said: “There is no other show with such a great array of products, and I think it gets bigger every year as well as continuously improving. The NEC is a great location for the show as it’s such a central location and we have met with people from all over the country, including several Scottish visitors.”


This enthusiasm was shared among visitors who flocked from all parts of the country. One such person was Hannah James from British Dog Fields, who described the show as one of a kind. 


She said: “There is no other place you can come to and have conversations with such a broad spectrum of people who work in the business end of agricultural diversification. Exhibitors are so knowledgeable. Everyone has got information at their fingertips and are generous with their time. I will be back next year.”


Many farmers were also in attendance, including James Mann who runs a vending enterprise at Vine Farm Dairy, Leicestershire. 


He said: “It has been a really good day and I have liked the fact it is four shows incorporated into one. We have vending machines at home and have been looking for further inspiration here and have picked up some suppliers. It has been really worthwhile.”


Verity Hyland, Event Director, Agriconnect said: “It was great to see so many rural business owners at the shows looking for ideas on how to take their businesses forward. 


“We are already planning next year’s event, under its new brand and name – Land, Leisure and Tourism. Here, the four shows will merge to become one event, divided into zones, including Farm Business Diversification and Outdoor Pursuits, to reflect the wide range of areas of interest visitors already enjoy.”


Join us at the 2024 Land, Leisure and Tourism Show which will be staged at the NEC on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 November 2024. 

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