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A grand plan for the land

Rory McIvor
Investment Communications Specialist
After almost four decades working in financial markets, Harry Buscall retired from Ruffer in 2020 to embark on a new adventure with his son Dominic at his family farm, Ken Hill in Norfolk. 

Using a combination of rewilding, regenerative farming and traditional conservation practices, the team at Ken Hill have devised an innovative approach to sustainable land management.

Rory McIvor caught up with Harry, to find out more about his approach to the UK’s land use conundrum.

What are you trying to achieve?

We hope to embed a new approach which allows us to thrive economically whilst meeting the challenges of climate change, biodiversity decline and the need for sustainable food production.

At Ken Hill, rather than look at the risks under our nose we have tried to identify the major trends which will dominate the debate in the years and decades to come.

So we’re considering issues like carbon storage, water shortage, soil erosion and land as a provider of public goods.

To put it in terms with which Ruffer clients will be well acquainted, our hope is that this approach will build a genuinely diversified portfolio of natural assets enabling long-term compound growth for generations to come.

British farming appears to be at a critical juncture, whats the situation on the ground?

There is significant polarisation in the debate amongst farmers and landowners on how best to manage land and the environment. The UK policy setting for farming, the environment, and rural wellbeing is at its most dynamic for decades.

The economics of farming for most averaged-sized holdings has been turned on its head by Brexit, which brought an end to payments made via the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP payments essentially masked a lot of loss-making farming businesses – the curtain has now been pulled back.

CAP payments are being replaced by UK government schemes more oriented to good environmental management – although the detail and quantum of the payments are yet to be fully laid out.

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This article first appeared in The Ruffer Review 2022.

Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income derived therefrom can decrease as well as increase and you may not get back the full amount originally invested. Ruffer performance is shown after deduction of all fees and management charges, and on the basis of income being reinvested. The value of overseas investments will be influenced by the rate of exchange.

The views expressed in this article are not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any investment or financial instrument, including interests in any of Ruffer’s funds. The information contained in the article is fact based and does not constitute investment research, investment advice or a personal recommendation, and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities are included for the purposes of illustration only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell these securities. This document does not take account of any potential investor’s investment objectives, particular needs or financial situation. This document reflects Ruffer’s opinions at the date of publication only, the opinions are subject to change without notice and Ruffer shall bear no responsibility for the opinions offered. Read the full disclaimer.

 

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London
80 Victoria Street
London SW1E 5JL
Edinburgh
31 Charlotte Square
Edinburgh EH2 4ET
Paris
103 boulevard Haussmann
75008 Paris, France