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“Will it? Won’t it? Could it? Might it?”: An unsettled time for farmers

FOLK2FOLK

There are too many doubts.  On both a business and personal level, the Covid-19 pandemic is raising many questions which is introducing waves of doubt into decision-making processes.

As Morrisons reappoint marshals at the doors of its supermarkets, food supplies are again creeping up the agenda. For farmers, growers and the food supply chain, the immediate problem is continuity of supply which enables the general public to allay any doubts that they can buy flour and loo rolls.

Back at the farm gate there are other concerns.  In 236 days, we exit the European Union; will we be trading on WTO terms?.  The Agriculture Bill is making its way through the Upper House; will the government still provide funding with public borrowing so high?  The Public Bill Committee was suspended throughout the summer, but now back in action and scheduled to consider The Environment Bill on September 29th and so many will be asking ‘how will this impact on my farming practice?’

The knock-on effects of uncertainty

These doubts and concerns are starting to influence day-to-day management decisions.  Some arable farmers are changing their cropping and dropping malting barley to grow a second wheat.

Evidences early growth in field of oilseed rape
Photo taken 20 Aug 2020

With an increased risk of disease and greater growing costs but less risky than tariffs on exporting malting grade barley and whiskey.  But don’t forget what part our old friend, the British weather, plays in all this.  Many oilseed rape growers had an awful season, one of my friends grew 300 acres but with dry weather delaying germination, battered by cabbage stem fleas beetle and then under water for winter, what bit was harvested will hardly cover the cost of combining let alone all the variable and other fixed costs.  Many farmers had already taken the decision to drop the crop completely or reduced their acreage this year, when conditions have been near perfect!

Farming is entering a period of massive change.

We will still be required to produce quality wholesome food for the nation at affordable prices

Photo taken 23 Sep 2020.

Textbook establishment of winter oilseed rape following an early crop of winter barley, straw removed and sold, min till and rain!

whilst farm support payments are phased out and we get paid for public goods.  At the same time the development of technology, across the industry, continues at a staggering rate.  Yet farming is like any other business, you can’t stand still, go forwards or be dragged backwards.

Adequate capitalisation is paramount to a successful farm business; be it improving facilities, a diversification or an amalgamation.  Whatever step a business needs to take, FOLK2FOLK is here to help your business grow, develop and diversify.

Photos show textbook establishment of winter oilseed rape following an early crop of winter barley, straw removed and sold, min till and rain!

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Picture1-1-1By Ian Bell, Head of Farming & Rural Engagement

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