James trained at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester graduating in 1975 with a NDA and a Diploma in Advance Farm Management.
Before joining Velcourt in 1978 James worked in the Farm Business Consultancy Department of a national firm of UK Land Agents. James became a Director of Velcourt Group plc in 1987, its Managing Director in 1990 and Chief Executive in 1991.
Velcourt is currently farming some 55,000 Ha's of land in the UK: in addition, the company is managing large-scale farming enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe. The company has its own R&D Department and operates a Management Training Scheme.
James is currently a non-executive Director of both Openfield Grain Ltd and Grosvenor Farms Ltd: in addition he sits on the Board of a number of other companies operating in the property and agricultural sectors within the UK and Europe. He is a member of both the steering groups "Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform" from July 2010 and the "Global Food Security Strategy Advisory Board" as from October 2011. In November 2012, James was appointed by the Prime Minister as Business Ambassador to represent the UK's Food and Agricultural industries. James is also a member of the Agri-Tech Leadership Council joining in March 2013 when the initiative was first announced by UK Ministers.
James is a member of the Agricultural Forum and the Worshipful Company of Farmers as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society. James was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural University in July 2014.
James lives in West Dorset on the family's estate which includes an in-hand dairy farming enterprise with 2,250 cows in milk. Other enterprises include an anaerobic digester which has been operating successfully for over 4 years. This business is managed by Velcourt. The family also own and operate an arable unit in Hampshire and in addition an arable farm in Ohio, USA growing corn and soya.
He currently is the Chair of the Estates Committee.