The challenges of farm administration in the 21st Century are addressed at the IAgSA National Conference
The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries & Administrators held their 43rd Annual Conference ‘2012 and beyond’ this year at the Albrighton Hall & Spa Hotel in Shropshire.
Over 130 farm administrators attended from across Great Britain along with various industry representatives and were kept busy with a varied programme of practical workshops, presentations and visits to local farming enterprises and historic sites.
As professional organisation, the emphasis is always on keeping skills and knowledge up to date and the 2012 programme reflected this. CAP Reform, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, new pensions scheme, farm accounting software workshops and planning for the future were all featured.
Local entrepreneur, Charlotte Hollins gave and impassioned and inspirational talk on the rescuing of Fordhall Organic Farm in Market Drayton which was followed up with a visit in the afternoon. Another inspirational visit was to Battlefield 1403
(L -R: Rosemary Jackson, Sue Hough, Jennifer Pratt, Marion Boston, Rt Hon Jim Paice MP, Liz Wait, Jenny Chesshire, Sylvia Fathers, Chris Pitchford)
Saturday evening was the prestigious Gala Dinner of which launch the industry bible was launched the IAgSA “Farm Office Handbook”, an invaluable practical reference source for anyone involved in farm administration followed by a most interesting and entertaining talk by Margaret Thrower . The Gala dinner is an ideal opportunity to thank Sponsors and guest speakers for their time freely given, and for much needed social networking.
On Sunday morning the Rt Hon Jim Paice MP, Patron, addressed the Conference and reassured the members that he was working hard to try and free up the mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy that our farmers, and in turn farm administrators, have to deal with every day. Mr Paice also stated that the fourteen newly formed Rural and Farming Networks had been set up to provide a direct hotline for rural businesses to heart of government. Within Shropshire this will be done through the rural hub partnership of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire hubs.
IAgSA members raised the issue of poor rural broadband availability and the concern that the increasing demands made by the government for the future electronic filing of VAT, PAYE and other legislative farming records would be made impossible for their clients if the broadband infrastructure was not in place to support this governmental requirement. Mr Paice explained that government is committed to helping improve the situation through the BDUK project for the worst hit areas across the UK, however, with much to be done to help fix the infrastructure he was under no illusion that this would not be a quick fix job and that for many rural businesses this is a very serious problem.
Mr Paice also spent much time speaking to individual IAgSA members throughout the Saturday and Sunday about the issues facing their clients and many members felt it was refreshing to be able to speak to a minister who really did understand the current farming issues, having had first hand experience himself before becoming an MP.
Sunday of Conference was rounded off with three excellent speakers, Duncan Montgomery of Whittingham Riddell, Iain Morrison of Mgf Solicitors and Andrew Connah of AMC gave us insight into both the legal and financial ways to take farming businesses forward into the next generation.
The Conference was chaired for the weekend by Simon Latter, NFU Group Secretary for Shrewsbury area, who made sure that the whole weekend ran as smooth as clock work.
The venue was superb and the conference was deemed to be a huge success – for which the IAgSA Shropshire Branch & IAgSA Head Office would like to thank all our national and local sponsors and supports for enabling us to be able to host such an amazing conference.
Next year's National IAgSA Conference will be taking place from 8th - 10th March 2013 at the Royal York Hotel, York - so do note it in your diary and keep an eye on the national conference page of the website for more news as it breaks!