Ian Bell OBE, Head of Farming and Rural Engagement, ponders the modern version of mixed farming.
The constant evolution of the farming industry has rendered the phrase ’Up Horn, Down Corn’ somewhat archaic. It refers to the times when we had a mixed farming practice; a farm would milk cows, keep their calves for beef production, have a couple of sows and lamb, a small flock of sheep alongside growing wheat and barley for home use and for sale.
The theory was that when beef prices were high, ’Up Horn’, that would compensate for lower cereal prices, ’Down Corn’. The mixed farming system would create its own insurance policy as it would be very rare for every commodity price to be in the doldrums.
Over the last fifty years, various pressures have steered farming into a far more specialised industry. It started in the 70’s with a ‘Dairy to Beef Conversion Scheme’ when small dairy farmers were financially encouraged to cease milk production and turn to beef. Entry into the EEC produced generous grants to drain land and erect new buildings and so it has gone on with all enterprises looking for an economy of scale which has usually meant getting even more specialised and bigger.
Could the modern term be ‘Down Farming, Up Diversification’? or ‘Down Farming, Up Added Value’? Growing numbers of FOLK2FOLK farming clients are looking for alternate income streams; a farm shop, glamping, luxury tree houses and barn conversions for holiday lets are just a few of the diversification projects currently being funded. Every High Street in the UK is testament to the changes in the retail arena. This is creating opportunities for commodity producers to develop an on-farm process and add value; goat’s milk ice cream, fruit juices, organic flour and unpasteurised milk are dramatically increasing returns for some of FOLK2FOLK clients. As the diversified element of many farming businesses develops and matures it’s easy to see the ‘farm with a diversification’ becoming the ‘rural business which just happens to be based on a farm’!
A primary objective of FOLK2FOLK is to help your business grow, develop and diversify. Use your existing asset base to secure funding which will make your farming business fit for the new era of farming. Contact us if we can help.
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