A thriving Penrith farm business is to host the Institute of Agricultural Management’s first ever annual meet in the North.
Lowther Park Farms is home to 5,200 breeding ewes plus 1,000 replacements, 200 summer grazed store cattle and 140 red deer. An events business also hosts a four-day music festival there, along with the likes of the two-day Lowther Show and 10k endurance challenge.
On October 21, the farm on the 28,000ha Lowther Estate will open its doors to visitors keen to find out more about IAgrM and its aims, including the promotion of high standards in agricultural management and the encouragement of professional qualifications in the field.
Farmers and others working in the sector will also be given a tour of the farming enterprise, being introduced to some of it latest developments, designed to build a sustainable business post-CAP reform.
Richard Price, who has been Lowther Park Farms manager for six years, said: “We think smart, and are very passionate about what we do – our staff, systems, communication and technology are key to efficient production.
“We have adopted high welfare standards and, farming an in-hand operation, we have an understanding of the tenants and the challenges they face.
“Finally, to be sustainable in future, the business has to be profitable and we’re on target to achieve a 10% return on capital.”
Mr Price said his initial seven-year plan was focused on simplifying the business to create a positive cash flow and to prepare for a profitable future post-CAP Reform, operating without payments.
A new arable enterprise has been introduced, while the sheep enterprise has expanded by 40% to 5,000 ewes at the expense of a suckler herd and poultry unit.
One of the most difficult aspects of Mr Price’s challenge has been to cut the wage bill by 75%, leaving only four full-time staff – Stephen Forrest, John Harrison, Peter Horn and Antony Price.
Furthermore, after nine years in organic, the entire in-hand operation has been switched to conventional production.