The 174th Annual General Meeting of The Farmers Club was chaired by Richard Butler in the River Room of the Horseguards Hotel, next door to The Farmers Club on Tuesday, 5th July 2016 – the Club itself still undergoing the final touches of Project CREST refurbishment. The following is a summary of the Minutes, full copies of which can be obtained by email from the Secretary.
Minutes, Club Accounts and Annual Report
The Minutes of the 173rd Annual General Meeting of the Club were approved and the Report and Audited Accounts of the Club for the year ended 31st December 2015 were adopted unanimously. Mark Hudson proposed the adoption of the accounts, and Campbell Tweed seconded.
Club Chairman Richard Butler paid a warm tribute to Stephen Skinner, who had retired as Chief Executive and Secretary at the end of June, after almost nine years, and welcomed his successor, Andrei Spence, who joined the Club following a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, most recently as its chief legal officer.
Mr Butler explained that once again the Club had generated a considerable surplus in 2015, but that it was a very necessary surplus. “When you consider Project CREST, the largest single investment the Club has made in its history, through which we are currently budgeting to spend a total of £1.14m, this will be covered from revenue and only a small temporary loan. That puts any surplus into perspective, especially as it is not just for Club reinvestment, but to build up the lease renewal fund for future generations too.”
Election of the Club Chairman and the Vice-Chairman
Proposing the election of Tim Bennett as Chairman for 2017 Chair of Trustees Julian Sayers said Tim was first and foremost a farmer from near Carmarthen in south-west Wales, who had run dairy, egg and pedigree beef enterprises. But he had also done a lot for farming beyond the farm gate. As NFU Deputy President and President from 1998-2006, a period when he masterminded the NFU’s move into state-of-the-art headquarters in Stoneleigh, whilst retaining an investment property in London, which had given the organisation a very sound financial base for the future. From 2007-2014 he was chair of AHDB’s dairy sector levy body, Dairy Co, where he received the prestigious UK Industry Award. Since 2007 he has served on the Food Standards Agency board, currently as its Chairman.
Trustee Nicki Quayle seconded the proposal which was approved unanimously.
Replying, Tim said that when he joined the Club he considered it a privilege, so to become its chairman was a very great honour indeed, especially in its 175th Anniversary year. The Club was originally formed to debate the farming issues of the day, and after the momentous referendum decision to leave the EU, and the implications that would have for farming and the food supply chain, he was hastily rearranging his programme for the year ahead. But it was also important to communicate to members the massive investment that had been made in the refurbishment of the Club through project CREST, and to encourage members to make full use of its enhanced facilities. The Club was a members club, that put members first, and evolved for the benefit of its members, with no revolutions. Its almost unique selling point was that it was a friendly, family Club. He intended to do his best to maintain that in 2017.
Proposing the election of Peter Jinman as Vice-Chairman for 2017 past Chairman Anne Chamberlain said Peter was primarily a veterinary surgeon who graduated from London’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and practised in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, before becoming a consultant with a wide range of committee roles. He had been President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association, chairman of Defra’s Farm Animal Welfare Committee, non-executive director of Assured Food Standards (Red Tractor), trustee of the Addington Fund and a lay member of the House of Commons Standards Committee. He is a pub and restaurant owner, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration. He was made an OBE in 2004. His enthusiasm and contribution to the Club epitomized the fellowship which the Club was all about.
Jimmy McLean seconded the proposal, which was approved unanimously.
Richard Maunder was elected Honorary Treasurer for 2017.
Mr Butler thanked George Jessel for his work as Honorary Treasurer for the past two years and explained that he was now moving on to other duties within his home county of Kent.
Proposing the election of Richard Maunder as Honorary Treasurer for 2017, Trustee Paul Heygate said Richard grew up in Cullompton, Devon, attended Cardiff University and had been a member of the Club since 1998. After three years in accountancy in London he returned to the family’s animal feed business, Lloyd Maunder, for 25 years, becoming joint managing director, until the business was sold to Two Sisters Group, where he became Operations Director. For the past four years he has been Chief Executive/Association Secretary of Devon County Agricultural Association.
George Jessel seconded the proposal, which was approved unanimously.
The Chairman and Committee recommended that haysmacintyre continue in office, which was agreed unanimously.
There being no further business the Chairman concluded the Annual General Meeting.