Three reasons for farmers to be cheerful
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Anyone who works in agriculture will know that there is always a reason to be downbeat. Too much rain, not enough rain, soaring costs, unstable markets, decisions by faceless bureaucrats seemingly hell-bent on making life difficult for farmers... The list of things that can – and do – go wrong is endless.
Farmers could be forgiven for looking on the gloomy side. The continuing repercussions of Brexit, a chronic shortage of labour (leading to soaring wages), sky-high fertiliser costs, confusion about the transition from BPS to ELMS, not to mention a European war – it’s difficult not to be pessimistic.
But after a few days of sunshine, I can’t help being optimistic. Yes, farming faces challenges, but it’s time to look on the bright side and count our blessings. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.
The first reason to be cheerful is that despite increases in input costs, the market for food is strong and this is likely to continue for a sustained period. The war in Ukraine, coupled with other supply issues, is forcing up output prices, especially for grain. It may cost more to produce food this year, but the rewards are higher as well. Assuming the harvest comes into the barn in good conditions, 2022 results could be very good.
Reason number two for optimism is that 2022 looks set once again to be a staycation summer, which is great news for many farmers who have diversified into the holiday letting market. A year ago, commentators predicted that Britons would once again head off overseas this year, but the war in Ukraine and continued Covid disruption means that the UK will once again reap the tourism benefit.
The third reason to look on the bright side is the weather. After a couple of years when the climate gods seem to have been conspiring against agriculture, 2022 has – so far – seen fairly good weather. Yes, we could do with some rain now, but on the whole, crops look well as you drive around the countryside.
There are other factors that should put smiles on farmers’ faces: cattle prices are strong, we are finally getting clarity on the transition to ELMS and what it actually means and the contribution that farming makes to British life is becoming more appreciated by the general population as we emerge from Covid.
Those of us who work in and around farming have the best job in the world – despite all the challenges.
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