Advanced Course In Agricultural Business Management

Empowering and Developing the Agricultural Business Leaders of the Future

Advanced Course In Agricultural Business Management
The delegates for the 66th running of the ACABM held in Cirencester January 2017

The Advanced Course in Agricultural Business Management

The ACABM is a three-week residential course run, on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, by the Royal Agricultural University. It is held each year on the Royal Agricultural University’s campus in Cirencester, an excellent location that enables delegates to live in close proximity to the lecture facilities and to mingle, interact and exchange views and ideas with the full-time students attending the college.

The objective of the course is for the delegates to develop a deeper understanding of the wider business environment and to improve their capacity to operate effectively within their own businesses. This is achieved through a carefully balanced mix of lectures given by academics and industry leaders, together with hands on engagement in real life business case studies. Delegates are usually already in management positions when they attend the course and are typically those managers who recognise the value in broadening their knowledge base and being exposed to management ‘best practice’.

ACABM working pic
Working Session at the 2017 ACABM

A great deal of emphasis is put on case study work. This is conducted in a close knit, team environment with delegates able to work on a number of different case studies during the three-week period. Such is the trust and camaraderie built up during these courses, that the case study work will often include looking at aspects of the delegates own businesses. 

Some of the case studies also involve travel off-campus to the actual businesses. Here the delegates have a direct briefing from the business owners/managers and have the chance to ask questions to deepen their understanding and to study the issues, opportunities and facilities first-hand. The ACABM teams feedback their responses to the business owners/managers together with their recommendations for the future development and direction for the business studied.

Lectures are not confined to agricultural matters but instead cover the broad spectrum of disciplines needed to run successful businesses in today’s tough economic environment. Presenters include senior officers from the military, experts in communications and marketing and leaders from industries either associated with agriculture or with something to teach agriculture.

To-date some 1600 delegates have been through the course, with many now in senior management positions throughout agriculture and allied businesses. Previous delegates have commented that attending the course has been 'life-changing', that they have made ‘friends for life during the course' and that attending the course has been 'the best value for both money and time they could imagine'.

Discussion panel at 2017 ACABM
Land Use Discussion panel at the 2017 ACABM

The 2017 Running of the ACABM

The 2017 running of this prestigious course was held at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester between 17th January and 5th February. Once again this year we were blessed with a strong candidate list and the selection process produced a really impressive list of delegates. So it was that eighteen very diverse and interesting agri-business managers arrived in the RAU’s delightful and inspiring halls to start their three weeks of intensive and demanding work. The course is residential and intended to be entirely immersive with the delegates delving deeply into each others businesses and providing the external perspective that we all need to be truly effective.

This year’s group of three females and fifteen males was a lower gender mix than we would ideally wish for, but did contain the caliber of candidate and diversity of interests so important for the success of the course. Adding to the dynamics of the group were two delegates from Germany and one from Australia.

The aim of the course is to develop the managerial skills of the individuals and the understanding of the management of land based businesses. This is achieved through enhancing present knowledge by the use of a range of educational techniques and exposure to influential industry leaders. This year the delegates were treated to a very high class group of speakers that included Professor David Hughes, Lord Don Curry, Sean Rickard, Jane King and Allan Wilkinson to name just a few of the excellent cast of presenters that Professor John Alliston, the Course Director, had engaged.

At the end of the course the delegates gave a summing up presentation and answered questions from the Company. 

Some of the concluding comments, that seem to reflect the overall impression of the whole group were ... ‘The RAU is an excellent venue’, ‘The course was all I had expected and more besides’, ‘The leadership and organisational skills of John Alliston’s team were first class’, John Alliston must have a truly impressive ‘Little Black Book’ of contacts and speakers, the ones he chose for us were top notch’.

But perhaps the most significant comment, and this is something we have heard before, was ....

‘This has been a life-changing experience and I have made friends in these three weeks that I believe will last a lifetime.’

The delegates for the 2017 course were as follows ...
Contantin Paeschke - Germany
Mauritz von Wersebe - Germany
Simon Mattson - Australia
Alister Morbey - Cambridgeshire
Thomas Morton - Cambridgeshire
Anna Leadbetter - Cambridgeshire
Sam Philips - Gloucestershire
Joseph Edwards - Hampshire
Richard Evans - Kent
Paul Waterfall - Leicestershire
Charles Anyan - Lincolnshire
Rowan Adams - Northamptonshire
Emma Harle - Northumberland
Paul Raymond - Pembrokeshire
Chris Owen - Shropshire
David Ullyat - Wiltshire
Jonathon Smales - Wiltshire
David Helliar - Wiltshire

2017 ACABM group shot
Work continues during the 2017 ACABM

The 2018 Advanced Course in Agricultural Business Management

The 67th course will be held between 21st January and 10th February 2018

Interviews for the course will be held at Farmers' and Fletchers' Hall,Three Cloth Street on12th October 2017. 

For enquiries please contact Liveryman Simon Butcher at

For further information on the Course and an application form visit here.