Farming Focus - The Podcast for South West Farmers

‘Farming Focus’ – the farming podcast for Cornish Mutual Members and the wider farming community.

Farming Focus will bring its listeners the latest on what really matters to farmers. Featuring industry experts and farming professionals, we expect it to kickstart conversations across the South West and give farmers the knowledge and solutions to face today’s demands in agriculture.

To listen to the podcast click the link below: 

Series 3 of Farming Focus

Episode 1: Have we already bred the perfect cow?

Podcast host Peter Green looks at how far genetic improvement has come and if it still has further to go. Breeding for feed efficiency, beef farmer James Dixon now feeds 30-35 more cows from the same silage pits as 20 years ago. And in dairy, Professor Mike Coffey has seen the pursuit of yield traits replaced by those associated with the costs of maintaining the herd. But what is their agreed definition of the perfect cow?

Episode 20: Series Reflection: What will farming look like in 2050? 

Will farmers need the public’s permission to farm by 2050? Will farming be more mainstream and attract people from all walks of life? Will technology be offering more on-farm solutions, environmental benefits and entrepreneurial land use? These are just some of the points raised with podcast host Peter Green by Lynher Dairies owner Catherine Mead and Dyson Farming Chair David Fursdon in the series finale.


Episode 19 Bonus: Animal health and welfare pathway

Following last week’s episode on health and welfare, Dr Amy Jackson returns to Farming Focus to discuss the Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway with podcast host Peter Green. Think of your vet as a management consultant, using the funding available for an annual health and welfare review as a proactive rather than reactive visit, offering a fresh pair of eyes. Don’t let ‘good enough’ be good enough – use the new subsidies and strive to add value across your business by achieving optimal health.

Episode 19: Communicating animal health and welfare 

Animal welfare is a contentious subject - made no easier by the different perceptions of it held by farmers and the public according to Dr Amy Jackson on this week’s episode of Farming Focus. Amy is a specialist in agricultural communications describing herself as a ‘reputation trouble shooter’. She and podcast host Peter Green discuss how farmers could rethink how they talk about welfare and what happens on farm – focusing on engaging not educating.

Episode 18 Bonus: Putting on farm events to connect with the public 

In three years, Pete and Jenny Olds have seen their Open Farm Sunday visitors grow from 400 mainly rural neighbours to a crowd of 1,200 with the demographic shifting markedly towards a more urban audience. The Cornwall farmers return to Farming Focus in this bonus episode to explain how and why they seek out ways to bring people onto the farm. Hear their top tips for running farm events and learn about the resources available to help you start.

Episode 18: Your farm is your shop window: Connecting with the public

Consumers expect a lot from UK farmers but also get a lot says Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture & Fisheries at M&S Food. On this week’s episode of Farming Focus, he joins podcast host Peter Green along with Cornish farmers Pete and Jenny Olds. Steve believes it’s the job of everyone in the food industry to tell great stories about UK farming but need to show consumers how they benefit. Learn how Pete and Jenny are doing it through on-farm open days and social media.

Episode 17 bonus: Right plant, right place

Dorset farmer Ian Baggs returns to Farming Focus to share some of what he learnt on his Nuffield Scholarship about seeing and using the natural benefits of an individual farm. As a dairy and beef grazer, Ian’s travels took him to Australia, New Zealand and France to see how farmers were running successful pasture-based systems by reducing overheads and costs to reduce risk. As he reminds listeners, every pound spent needs to be made in return. Find out how.

Episode 17: Future Proofing Your Land

Drier summers are leaving second cut silage hardly worth the bother according to Dorset dairy farmer Ian Baggs. He describes how his family farm is adapting to our changing climate by using the drawbacks as opportunities, with Sustainable Food Trust Executive Director Adele Jones explaining how collecting baseline information specific to your farm helps that happen. Join them and podcast host Peter Green to hear how and why to future-proof your farm.

Episode 16 Bonus: Adding Value

In this bonus episode, host Peter Green delves a little deeper into how Fussels Fine Foods and Trink Dairy have become the businesses they are today, and the important decisions made along the way. Moving from volume to value, the importance of research while being prepared to ‘give it a go’, the significance of a brand and understanding the skills required to run a food business compared to those used in farming are all unwrapped.

Episode 16: Adding Value to Primary Produce 

Adding value to a primary product led to the creation of Fussels Fine Foods in Somerset and Trink Dairy in Cornwall but for different reasons and in different ways. Farming Focus host Peter Green is joined by Tim Fussell and Chris and Rachel Knowles to explain why and how they have diversified their businesses to gain more from their core business. And find out why Tim suggests, the best route to market is not always the first.

Episode 15 Bonus: How to creative with land access 

Understand a prospective landlord’s motivations and make sure you’re in tune with them is one of Tenant Farmers Association CEO George Dunn’s top tips as he returns to Farming Focus to look further into farm tenancies with podcast host Peter Green. He encourages those looking for tenancies to take opportunities but be prepared for the knock backs. They will come but learn from them and persevere, he says.

Episode 15: How to access land 

Almost half of all farmers have reliance on tenanted land. But the amount is under threat, with landlords taking advantage of schemes such as SFI by joining themselves thereby removing land from the tenanted sector. In this week's Farming Focus, host Peter Green is joined by highly experienced Tenant Farmers Association CEO George Dunn offering valuable insights and advice plus the award- winning Nicholls brothers who secured a 20-year tenancy to support their growing dairy business.  

Episode 14 Bonus: Funding diversification projects

Never under-estimate how long it takes to secure funding warns rural business adviser Simon Haley in this bonus episode on diversification. He discusses the essential elements of a funding proposal with host Peter Green, and suggests it pays to know your plan inside out – if a funder can believe in you, they’re more likely to believe in your project. Find out what else is required. 

Episode 14: Diversification

Diversification isn’t always about doing something different but can be simply making better use of existing assets and skills according to rural business adviser Simon Haley, and Somerset farmers Rob Addicott and Jeremy Padfield. They share their ideas and experiences on how to use diversification to elevate your business, not busyness, in this episode of Farming Focus, suggesting passion and a thick skin alongside a strategic mindset are central to success.


Episode 13 bonus: #WalkWithMe

#WalkWithMe was started by Chris Manley to help others overcome mental health issues at a time he was doing just that. In this bonus episode, Chris describes how walking and journaling are two important aspects of keeping himself mentally fit. #WalkWithMe encourages others to explore if the same is true for them. Chris is joined by FCN Ambassador Charles Anyan talking about being a Britain’s Fittest Farmer judge, a competition in which mental fitness is rated as highly as physical strength.

Episode 13: Healthy farmer, healthy future

In this episode, Peter Green discusses the importance of mental and physical fitness for a healthy future. Devon-based supply chain specialist Chris Manley and FCN ambassador farmer Charles Anyan share their stories and offer advice on why both are critical for running a successful farming business. They’ll be asking ‘Are you ready for the shock of your life?’, ‘Who’s your Julie?’ and ‘What’s your thing?’

Episode 12 bonus: Guide to creating a family charter – with Peter Craven

A family charter builds trust, aids decision making and helps farming families face the unexpected with confidence. Unique to each family, they are based on some common principles, offering a family ‘roadmap’, a set of ‘rules’ and above all, help make communication more open and effective. A concept discovered on his Nuffield travels, Peter Craven describes why he believes a charter is a vital tool for all farming family businesses.

Episode 12: Making succession work for your family business 

With 97% of UK farming businesses run by families, understanding as much about your family as your business is vital for success, Nuffield scholar Peter Craven told Peter Green in an episode relevant to all farmers running businesses involving family members. We also hear from Devon farmer Richard Darke about the long and sometimes difficult succession path his family followed in the past but how lessons learnt have contributed to them being named the 2023 Family-run Farm of the Year.

Episode 11: Does my farm have a future?

In the first episode podcast host Peter Green discusses whether the farm or the farmer determines future success with Soil Association CEO Helen Browning and Overbury Enterprises farm manager Jake Freestone.


Series 2 of Farming Focus

The second series of this poplar podcast brings a timely focus on the future of farming, asking what farmers can do to put themselves and their farms in the best possible place to face what lies ahead.



Episode 10: What does resilience really mean?

If your land is flat and fertile, you’d keep a thoroughbred, but if you need a horse able to cope with anything, you’d choose an Exmoor pony. Is this what resilience really means? The ability to respond positively to different situations? In a review of the previous nine episodes, podcast host Peter Green discusses resilience from every angle with Farm Carbon Toolkit CEO Liz Bowles and Precision Grazing founder James Daniel. 


Episode 9: The TB Vaccination Debate: Would vaccination make South West farming more resilient?


Despite being 10 years into the government’s 25-year bovine TB eradication policy, we have still lost 19,000 cattle to TB in the last 12 months. What more can be done to take control of this devastating disease and could vaccination be the silver bullet? Podcast host Peter Green talks to vet Ralph Drouin and farmer Max Sealy.


Episode 8: Does Regenerative Agriculture have a place in the marketplace?

Market potential is an important part of business resilience, so what relevance does regenerative agriculture have in the marketplace? Podcast host Peter Green discusses this often overlooked aspect of regenerative farming with First Milk Sustainability Director Mark Brooking and Dorset dairy farmer Sophie Gregory and whether farming regeneratively can add value to South West produce.

Episode 7: Rural Crime and resilient rural communities

Like farm safety, rural crime is often not thought about until we fall victim to it but there is much we can do to protect ourselves from what is becoming increasingly organised and borderless. Dr Kate Tudor reveals insights into her research set to surprise, alongside practical advice from PCSO Michael Storey from the Rural Affairs Unit at Avon and Somerset Police and Sergeant Natalie Skinner from Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team.

Episode 6: How can South West farmers reduce emissions and be more climate resilient?

Continuing our series on resilience, this episode looks at climate resilience. Farm Carbon Toolkit’s Becky Willson explains why farmers are in the unique position of being able to reduce emissions while increasing carbon capture with Wadebridge farmer Mike Roberts explaining the gains he’s seeing from the changes he’s made.

Episode 5: Telling your farming story

BBC journalist Anna Jones and communications specialist Kendra Hall explain how and why storytelling helps build industry resilience and is vital to its future. While not every farmer needs to be a social media influencer, they encourage farmers to connect with the public by being honest, authentic and involved at a local level.

Episode 4: Could the Sustainable Farming Incentive Benefit Your Farm Business?

Explore how to unlock the potential of the new policy landscape to enhance business resilience. Peter Green is joined by Sabine McEwan from FWAG South West and Dorset farmers David and Carolyn Gill, who share their thoughts and perspectives on the new schemes. 

Episode 3: Farm Safety 

To mark Farm Safety Week we talk about a topic often left unaddressed until something happens to make us think about it. Peter Green talks to Devon-based dairy farmer Fred Collins and two members of the Cornish Mutual team – Paul Mahon and Nick Lay – about why farm safety needs to be a priority.

Episode 2: "How to develop and maintain a resilient mindset"

Uncover the power of a positive mindset to navigate challenges and drive business growth. Host Peter Green delves into strategies for personal resilience with life coach Heather Wildman, who has worked in the farming sector for more than 25 years inspiring and motivating confidence to change and grow.

Episode 1: Farm Resilience: "Does it start with the soil?"

The first 10-episode series focus on resilience with host and Cornish Farmer Peter Green chatting to guests about how South West farming businesses can be resilient for the future. They explore everything from soil to rural crime, policy to future markets and farm safety to animal disease. 

Explore the vital role of soil in farm resilience and why it’s prominent in current agricultural conversations. Learn practical steps for assessing and improving soils, and discover the benefits of prioritising soil health. Host Peter Green is joined by Tom Tolputt, co-founder and Consultancy Director of Terrafarmer, and Professor Andy Neale, microbiologist in soil systems and research scientist at Rothamsted Research.



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