Posted 13 November 2009
This week’s Harper Forum saw Philip Huxtable, Director of JSR Farming talk to the students about “Progressive Farming – The Sustainable Way” after a busy day at the careers fair.
Mr Huxtable, a former agricultural student at Seale-Hayne in the 1970s, joined JSR in August 1976 after writing the company a letter asking for help in finding a job. An agronomist for 25 years, Mr Huxtable is now involved in all aspects of the business as its director. “I know it’s tough but it can be done, you can reach the top”, he told the students.
JSR is still a family run limited company and recently celebrated 50 years in business. It has an annual turnover of £24 million, assets of about £21.5 million and employs 135 staff. JSR is involved in property, arable farming, commercial pig production and pig genetics. It is an international business with a goal to have a presence in every pork-eating country in the world. China is a new and exciting market for JSR and the firm has a keen interest for Argentina to be active in its plans to move forward with pig genetics.
In the UK, JSR farms 3,600 ha and supplies to companies such as Walkers Crisps, Birds Eye and a number of supermarkets. Over the years it has reduced the area it farms and condensed it to a more central location. Mr Huxtable says the company is “leaner and meaner than ever before”.
As a company JSR is very environmentally aware and keen to help improve the environment. “We are the custodians of the countryside”, Mr Huxtable stressed to the students. More than 10% of JSR’s farmed area is in environmental schemes, with some in the higher level stewardship scheme. More than one mile of hedgerow has been planted every year for the last 10 years and the company’s sites have environmental features from woodland and ponds to wildlife corridors to beetle banks.
JSR has a LEAF demonstration farm and encourages people to visit and see what the company does. “Life is not all about poisons and profit” and Mr Huxtable is keen to change this view that many people have of farming and encourage members of the public and school groups to go and see what they do at the farm.
Mr Huxtable feels strongly that by using resources well and not being wasteful, sustainability can be achieved. He went onto tell the students about JSR uses pig manure and slurry to achieve this. He referred to the manure and slurry as solid and liquid gold, highlighting how valuable this resource is.
Looking to the future, JSR wants to continue to grow, develop its products and enhance its brand. The company is also looking to “attract new blood”. The senior managers want to nurture talent while looking after all their current staff. JSR is looking at taking on placement students with the right attitude and skills. “We are looking to employ winners,” said Mr Huxtable.
Mr Huxtable summed up the evening by saying “farming is a balance and JSR are trying very hard to get the balance right. We are being asked to produce more for less, going forward farming will be recognised for its hard work”.
On Thursday November 19, the invited speaker is D W Coulson, senior partner of Broadley and Coulson Chartered Surveyors.
By Carla Coghlan, Harper Forum Reporter