Contract Farming Agreements- Farm Redevelopment
In this blog, we will focus on how the Grasslands team works with farmers to transform their business. Our redevelopment projects are adapted for each farmer’s unique situation and level of involvement. Ultimately however, each project is designed to ensure that a farm is successfully guided from its current state, whatever that may be, into being a highly organised and efficient Grasslands farm.
At what stage does the farm redevelopment project take place?
Obviously, overhauling the way a farm operates on a day to day basis is not a simple endeavour. Each farm redevelopment project contains multiple stages which all need to be met. The initial contract negotiations and farm assessment carried out by Grasslands are used to establish the various parameters within the farm redevelopment. These include details about which party will provide the capital and how much capital will be required for a successful transition. It is also important to highlight that throughout every stage of a contract farming agreement, the farmer’s involvement and views are paramount to how the contract develops. Grasslands highly values the opinions of all our farmers and we are keen to receive the feedback in order to constantly improve and refine our processes.
What does a Grasslands farm redevelopment project look like?
With the initial parameters agreed we turn our focus to establishing a project steering group. It is the steering group which holds overall responsibility for the farm redevelopment project, including the three main parameters: time, cost and quality.
Within the steering group there will always be a sponsor. They are the member(s) who are providing the capital and so making the business case for the project. We appoint various specialists when necessary during the process in order to make informed, well-considered decisions. Furthermore, we also always appoint a user. This member is either the proposed future farm manager or one of Grasslands’ current senior farm managers. There is also a project manager appointed who is largely responsible for delivering the project plan and reporting frequently to the steering group. Finally, there is the steering group chairman.
Why do we need a steering group?
It is vital to have this mixture of members within the steering group – it ensures that each decision is robustly and evenly explored. Consider the impact on the project if the user was the only member advising the project manager. It is the very nature of the user to insist that every aspect of what they find important is carried out to the very highest standard.
For example, this may include the following: brand new buildings, silage pits, slurry lagoons and concrete tracks round the farm. Even though these investments would certainly work very well, it is highly likely that the budget and timescales would be severely hampered. Therefore, bringing the sponsor into the decision-making process helps to regulate the user. For example, using railway sleepers rather than concrete tracks, repairing the shed roof rather than building a new one. The sponsor is the member responsible for providing a competitive return to the farmer.
Once the steering group has been established, a detailed project plan is developed encompassing the timescale, the budget, the actions and the responsibilities. This is the main document used on a daily basis to monitor the three parameters.
Why does Grasslands run its redevelopment projects like this?
Grasslands firmly believes that all projects require a relatively rigid management structure to remain successful. Without clear guidelines, the project runs the risk of running over time and budget, subsequently failing to deliver on the high quality we promise. It is crucial that the projects are developed in promptly, ready for the first block calvers. Furthermore, by having a steering group we ensure that there is a regular space in which everybody is free to voice their ideas and concerns. The group can then agree on their position with all the key stakeholders present, providing clarity and efficiency.