The group, facilitated by PEM, began just over two years ago as a small network on LinkedIn – since then it has grown to a think-tank of around 250 members who share ideas and insights at regular meetings.
Leading professionals throughout the sector, such as agronomy specialists, accountants, solicitors, land agents, and food producers, all attend to discuss key topics including land values, inheritance tax, land sales, health and safety, and manorial rights.
Held at Newmarket’s British Racing School, EARPG began with two meetings a year to educate and encourage networking – it has now increased to quarterly meetings, attracting around 50 people to each gathering, including local MPs and keynote speakers. With members situated throughout the counties of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and even Gloucestershire, EARPG has grown into a valuable group for rural professional.
Social media has played a large part in EARPG’s success by creating a communications hub for sector professionals and enabling the organisers to set up a place where agriculture specialists can discuss new industry topics and easily invite members to the regular meetings. Networking and connecting on social media platforms is especially important, as it often leads to people working together, which benefits clients as everyone is working with the same knowledge and objectives.
Gary Frear, Head of the Bloodstock Business Development Team at PEM, comments, “We created the East Anglian Rural Professionals Group to give agriculture professionals the opportunity to speak with each other in an informal environment and to be educated on new legislations and trends in the sector.
“We continue to push social media as the way of communication in order to increase the number of people networking, as this has benefited the group and is definitely the way forward.”
Every member of EARPG has the opportunity to suggest discussion topics for future events using a feedback form given at the meets. Proposed future ideas include:
· Agriculture tax update
· Farming structure
· Renewable energy
· Farming and VAT/IHT
The next EARPG event is being planned for February 2013.