Farmers are suggesting that 2006 will be a difficult year, yet also feel there could be some good things to come out of the next 12 months.

 

David Handley, chairman of Farmers For Action:

 

“I think 2006 will be an even more difficult year than 2005. My biggest concern is the number of people who are going to leave the industry. The UK is down to 70% self-sufficiency and that is a very dangerous state of affairs.

 

“Red tape, legislation and bureaucracy are not going to go away, and the Food Act and Water Directive will add a further burden.

 

“However, I also think there could be a lot of good things to come in 2006. I think that farmer power could come to the fore – farmers have had enough and they realise that if they want to make a change they’re the ones who are going to have to drive it.

 

“We are getting improved support from consumers for UK produced food, and I would like farmers to be proud of what they do.”

 

Sue & Andy Guy, Farmers Weekly’s farmers of the year:

 

“We hope that the SFP and ELS payment will arrive in full and on-time, but rather fear that they won’t. We’re also hoping that farmers won’t give away their SFP in subsidising a reduced milk price – but fear that they probably will.

 

“We hope that there’s going to be further rationalisation in the dairy sector, with more co-operation and vertical integration. But we are afraid that fuel bills are going to continue to rise and impact on many farm costs.

 

“We also hope that there’s going to be less moaning. We would like farmers to take more positive steps and go and talk to some school children or the WI, for example.

 

“There are about 100,000 farmers and if we each spoke to 100 people that would make a huge difference.”