Amy Cowdell, a partner and specialist in agricultural law at Langleys Solicitors LLP, takes time out of the office to speak to a local Nottinghamshire family about growing their farm for the future.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Peter and June White, who have run Leyfields Farm, together Michael and Christine Channing, for over 30 years. I was keen to find out first-hand about their experiences of managing an agricultural business in the local area.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
June: “It’s the most rewarding career anyone could wish to have. It’s literally a case of going straight out the door and into the workplace. Who wouldn’t love getting to work in and enjoy the beautiful Nottinghamshire countryside every day?”
Peter: “There’s also so much variety in the job. All four seasons are special, each producing different challenges within the farming year.”
What have you found most rewarding?
Peter: “Besides our children Tessa and Zoe, expanding the business over the last thirty years has been incredibly rewarding.”
June: “Growing excellent crops and reaping the rewards at harvest time gives us a sense of achievement year on year. We work in partnership with my sister Christine and Brother in Law Michael. Working closely as a family and making decisions together with very fulfilling.”
What are the main challenges currently facing farmers?
Peter: “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues to have an impact. Regardless of whether we are in or out, the food production industry requires stability and security and we just don’t have that right now. The current situation is creating volatile commodity prices and increasing the costs of elements like machinery, imported chemicals and fertilisers.”
Aside from Brexit, do you think the government and official bodies should be doing more to protect UK farmers?
June: “Definitely, yes! UK farming is carried out to the highest standards and this is not always appreciated by the consumer. Imports tend to be grown to lesser standards without traceability and there needs to be transparency across food production globally. Agriculture is one of our oldest industries and is a vital part of our economy which needs protecting for everybody.”
What are your ambitions for the future of the business?
Peter: “While we’re striving to maintain a stable and efficient business, it’s also vital we continue working hard to protect the environment, using new technology where possible to improve our soil and, ultimately, our bottom line.”
June: “We’re proud to be the fourth generation to farm at Leyfields and we see ourselves as the guardians for the farm of the future. We’re aiming to leave a legacy for future generations but to do this, costs need to be tightly controlled and we need a level playing field with world markets for our produce.”
Finally, would you recommend a career in farming to others?
June: “Absolutely, the challenges, rewards, lifestyle are a perfect combination.”