Liz Haines and husband Nick

Liz Haines has joined Farmers Weekly‘s team of Opinion writers, alongside such well-established contributors as David Richardson, Elizabeth Elder, Charlie Flindt and Matthew Naylor. We asked her a few questions.

Tell us about your farm

We farm 170ha of grassland in a contract farming arrangement at the Hardwick Estate in Ellesmere, north Shropshire. We milk 320 cross-bred spring block calving cows through a 16:32 parlour.

What’s your background?

I studied English Literature at University, and previously worked in book publishing. I’m a new convert to farming – it has been quite a change of lifestyle.

What prompted you to pursue a career in agriculture?

My husband left his job as a trainee rural surveyor to go farming seven years ago, and we’ve been learning about spring block-calving in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand ever since.

See also: Read Liz’s first Opinion piece

I soon realised that this system could give us a better quality of life than a 9 to 5 job ever could, as well as the opportunity to grow equity in our own business.

Are you optimistic about the future?

Very. Although there is a lot of doom and gloom about the milk price at the moment, when you look at the bigger picture, the next 10 years look very positive.

I’m confident that we are in the right system of farming to make the most of the opportunities that are sure to arise when the milk price eventually comes back.

What traits do farmers need to be successful?

Business acumen – A strong understanding of the factors that impact the bottom line of their business, and the ability to manage them.

Open mindedness – Able to embrace change and adapt their business to survive in a constantly evolving and increasingly volatile market place.

Positivity – Able to follow their own path with confidence, and not get bogged down by what other people think.

What makes you laugh?

My husband’s dancing.

What makes you angry?

People who criticise welfare/environmental standards on UK farms without ever having visited one.

Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic initiative and it’s great that so many more people from all over the country are getting the chance to see what really happens on UK farms.

What do you do when you’re not farming?

I enjoy horse riding, Pilates and cooking.

Aspirations for the future?

We currently own a percentage of the herd at Hardwick, and we hope to increase this year on year.

In the medium term, we’d like to replicate what we are doing on another farm, and ultimately build up enough capital to buy our own farm.