Derek Clark

Derek’s family have farmed in the uplands of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire for generations

Derek’s family have farmed in the uplands of the Ribble Valley in Lancashire for generations, where he and his wife have around 400 ewes which they usually lambed outside in April. But in order to develop their business, they have brought forward their lambing period to start inside from February. Given the success of this, they are looking to further spread the season in future years , with the possibility of some December lambings.

They heard about The Farm Resilience Programme in two ways, both through the NFU’s weekly newsletter and from a neighbouring farmer who was also interested in the programme. Derek called the Garstang group coordinator for further information which led him to think ‘this is going to be good’. The Garstang group that Derek is part of is kindly supported by Morrisons. “It’s great to see such a large corporation supporting small family farms,” said Derek.

Talking about his experience of the programme, Derek said: “The benchmarking tool got me thinking about what the business actually is and got me to have a long hard look at it. All the way through the programme it’s challenged your thinking, it’s a wake-up call for what is really going on with your business. What you pick up on the programme really spurs you on.

“The upland land isn’t fit for much apart from some seasonal sheep grazing, being very wet it grows little else than rushes and tussock grass, so I’m planning to make it into wetland habitat with some woodland creation. For the better quality land, some of which is ploughable, the intention is to direct drill with better grasses and legumes to provide forage of higher quality to offset reliance of bought-in concentrate feed. So we’re looking at making use of legume crops, and using the fit land we do have more efficiently.

“The Farm Resilience Programme allows farmers to be open and honest with others, which doesn’t happen very often in this industry. It’s a great way for people to come together, to put your head above the parapet and own how well your business is doing, to talk things through with others in a similar situation and with the expertise of the consultants.

“I would – without a shadow of a doubt – recommend this programme. It shows you how you can progress the business to do what it is supposed to do, to support yourself and your family, provide a good quality of life, and prepare for retirement. Farming is what we want to do in life, so it’s important to be doing it the best we can, and make the best use of our time and resources.”

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