Richard Counsell, Somerset, United Kingdom

Agriculture needs more risk management and finance products that are designed and built from the ground up

Richard Counsell

His farm

  • Following 15 years spent working in foreign exchange risk management and IT development, this farmer’s son from Somerset decided to go back into agriculture
  • His intention was to search for solutions to manage farming risks and measure their feasibility and acceptability among farmers

His innovations

  • With the support of leading universities, Richard searched for the solution in private sector insurance. The main difficulty was addressing systemic risk, as the principle of insurance is to spread risk widely
  • According to the principle “Up Horn, Down Corn”, the idea is to put together an insurance policy designed like a large farm that is sufficiently diversified to avoid systemic risk and reduce the risk borne by the insurer. This will lead to a hedging product at an attractive price for the farmer
  • To achieve this, he studied price histories across all farming categories (dairy, livestock and crops) instead of just cereal prices
  • In association with the University of Liverpool, Richard was able to create algorithms to predict agricultural product price trends and seek diversification opportunities, much like a traditional mixed farm
  • He then designed an index insurance  product aimed at farmers

His results

  • Farmers can now take out a harvest insurance policy without needing public subsidies on risk capital. This product is offered purely on a commercial basis. This net cost of this protection to the public purse would therefore be close to zero
  • This insurance can be adapted in each country depending on the analysis of price histories of the various commodity speculations

Find out more

Richard, who used his NUFFIELD Scholarship in 2016 to meet the various partners he needed to design this system, created his own firm in 2018 to market the product. Stable, his platform, offers insurance not only in the UK but also in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Argentine, Germany, Ukraine and Morocco.

Read his report on «  getting stable : making incertain farming futures thing of the past ».

Visit his website

This profile was written by the organisation NUFFIELD France, a member of the NUFFIELD International network. The NUFFIELD Scholarship supports agriculture professionals on an international research and development journey. It is a window onto the world and access to a worldwide farming network.