The Royal Smithfield Club's Members Country Meeting to the award-winning Ludlow Farm Shop, not only welcomed their president, HRH The Countess of Wessex on the opening day, but also the Earl of Plymouth.

The two-day event which included the club's AGM saw chairman William Bedell, thank The Countess for her continued support of club. He also highlighted the launch of the Smithfield Forum at the beginning of the year, which in turn has providing a united and independent voice for all stakeholders in the red meat supply chain.

He focused on the success of the club's events over the past year to include the Smithfield Beef Ribs and Saddle of Lamb competitions as well as the Club’s support of the National Young Stars event, and its Next Generation delegate to the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) conference.

True to its theme of ‘Field to Plate’, the first day revealed a behind-the-scenes tour of the impressive Ludlow Farm Shop which is part of the Earl of Plymouth's estate and prides itself in the fact that 80% of its produce comes from Shropshire and its surrounding counties. The estate extends to 8000 acres with the 60-strong guests able to take sight of the 300-cow suckler herd and 320-head dairy herd which sit alongside a 2200 head sheep flock.

All of the beef, lamb, pork and milk sold in the shop, café, hotel and restaurant comes off the farm with more than half of the products in the farm shop made in its own artisan production units that surround the shop floor. A further highlight was the after-dinner speaker given by Lord Digby Jones, former director general of the CBI and minister of state for UK trade and investment.

Day two saw a visit to ABP Beef (UK)’s flagship facility at Ellesmere, Shropshire – described by managing director Tom Kirwan, as a ‘world-leading facility’ in terms of its advanced, efficient and energy sustainable beef processing operation. The plant employs more than 800 people and receives cattle from in excess of 2000 farmers, mainly from Shropshire and Cheshire, and from Powys in Wales.

Next generation delegate to the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) was young Harry Huddart (25) assistant farm manager of Beeswax Dyson Farming, Nocton, Lincs, who attended a conference in Edmonton, Canada, last autumn.