John Goodwin (45) farms near Presteigne where he keeps around 800 wool-shedding Exlana sheep bred for their quality and a herd of 60 Aberdeen Angus beef cattle finished on the farm. He also grows cereals and his wife runs farmhouse accommodation – a busy couple with a young school-age family.
John is in the final stages of a Master’s degree in sustainable and efficient food production, but despite his impressive academic background, he says that being part of the Agri Academy Business & Innovation Programme has been one of the best experiences of his life, which he would recommend to farmers of all ages.
“It took a bit of persuasion from my local Farming Connect development officer who encouraged me to apply, because I had incorrectly assumed the Agri Academy was targeted at just young farmers.
“Personal development is important at whatever stage of life you are at, and I think it is the combination of a mix of age groups, all from differing backgrounds, and a very well planned programme of training and activities, which makes this programme so successful.
“We all made lifelong friends, we keep in touch and also plan to set up a new Agrisgôp group.”
John says he learned so much from the Business & Innovation Programme challenge, which took him out of his comfort zone when the group members were each tasked with producing a business plan for a diversified farm business in the Mendip Hills.
“Most of the farmers in our group had an affinity with much of what the owners were doing but we realised that it is essential to focus your efforts on the top performing areas. As a result of this learning curve, I’m now investing more time in my livestock and new marketing systems including setting up a new website.
John found the group’s study visit to Switzerland very beneficial.
“It was inspiring to see so many Swiss farmers operating efficiently and profitably with a supportive government behind them, despite operating outside the EU.”