After a long period during which any kind of farming community gathering has been impossible, more than 300 farmers, producers and supporting industry professionals will converge on the Norfolk Showground at the end of this month for the first Norfolk Farming Conference in three years.

Eastern Daily Press: Tom Corfield, agricultural partner at Arnolds Keys – Irelands AgriculturalTom Corfield, agricultural partner at Arnolds Keys – Irelands Agricultural (Image: Arnolds Keys)

There is much to discuss: global issues such as the war in Ukraine, which has affected worldwide commodity prices; national issues, including the direction of future government support for farms through environmental schemes; and specific local issues such as water.

The three key topics – trade, environmental matters and water – will be ‘grounded’ through local farm case studies covering rewilding, natural capital and soil health.

Having had three different Secretaries of State for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs in less than eight weeks, it remains to be seen whether the latest holder of that post, Therese Coffey, will attend. I don’t think many of us will be holding our breath.

However, even without ministerial attendance, the speaker line-up is both impressive and very relevant to Norfolk with Dr Belinda Clarke of Agri-TechE in the chair.

Farmers who are losing their abstraction licences – something which is having a substantial impact on many businesses – will be keen to hear what Dr Steve Moncaster, technical advisor for the Broadland Agricultural Water Abstractors Group, has to say.

Soil is a key resource for every farm, so the insights of James Beamish of the Holkham Farming Company will give us plenty to think about.

Professor Paul Dolman and David Lyles will discuss the Biodiversity Audit in the North Norfolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Gathering this ecological information about habitats and species will help formulate future management plans for the area, which will most likely impact the future development of north Norfolk.

The Norfolk Farming Conference will come hot on the heels of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which is going on right now in Egypt. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a late addition to that event’s guest list, has already called for ‘clean growth’. The Norfolk Farming Conference includes a section on carbon, which is still an emerging market, and one which is sure to develop and grow.

All in all, it looks set to be a fascinating and vital day of presentations and discussions. After three years away, the Norfolk Farming Conference has never been more relevant.

The Norfolk Farming Conference takes place on Wednesday, November 30 For more information, please visit