Farming is wonderful job and one that comes with lots of perks, but it is also a tough industry and is affected by many factors and involves lots of decisions.
Some people think the solutions to agriculture’s issues are simple and are keen to tell farmers exactly what they should do. Here are nine of the things that farmers are tired of being told…
1. “It must be nice – being able to pick when you work.”
Yes, lovely. The animals needing feeding, milking, calving, lambing and the weather allow us to work as and when we please.
2. “Diversify. You’ve just got to open up a farm shop. Everyone’s doing it.”
Nice idea, only problem is we’re eight miles down a muddy farm track that would take the sump out of a Sherman tank.
3. “Expand. It’s all about spreading your fixed costs.”
Good job there’s so much land available then, isn’t it. And it’s not as if it’s expensive to buy or rent. Oh, hang on…
4. “Change enterprises.”
Of course, why didn’t we think of that before? I’ll grow milling wheat on this 1-in-4 hill farm field, currently covered with more scree than grass.
5. “Hand over the reins to the next generation.”
Yes, that’s important – but all in good time. We’re not past it quite yet as it happens! And let’s be honest, just because someone has a degree certificate, it doesn’t make them Richard Branson.
6. “Make more use of technology.”
OK, I’m just off now to ask the bank manager if I can borrow £100,000 for that state-of-the-art combine. I’m sure he’ll be falling over himself to lend me the cash when he hears I grow all of 6ha of combinable crops.
7. “PR what you do to the public.”
Yes, initiatives such as Open Farm Sunday are great, but there are not enough hours in the day as it is and I rarely cross paths with the public. I did explain the other day to that man with the dogs (nine of them, to be precise) about the merits of buying British. He called me something that I can’t repeat here.
8. “No you can’t convert that shed/barn into something useful that will give it a future, help the family farm survive and provide rural employment.”
Better to leave it to fall into disrepair and disappear.
9. “Pull over in your tractor every 5m along the road.”
Of course, it’s not as if we’ve got a job to do or anything… and I’m sure some kind driver will be willing to let me out again.