Planning means looking back as well as forward
By Jeremy Hunt
IT IS just as important to look back as to look forward when planning for the future, Nancy Tweddle of Cumbria Farmlink told producers at a restocking meeting in Penrith, Cumbria.
"Producers are nervous about restocking. It is going to be a stressful time, particularly when the first stock arrives on the farm.
"Everyone is going to be watching stock for the slightest sign of anything untoward. That situation is not going to be helped if there is still indecision about where the business is heading.
"There must be a definite plan to provide structure and stability for the business to build on," said Mrs Tweddle.
Cumbria Farmlink is providing free farm advice and business development consultations. Among its latest services are sessions for groups of producers seeking guidance on similar issues.
"We are working closely with vets and other advisers and can arrange meetings for small groups of producers.
"That may be a meeting where several dairy producers want to discuss future herd health issues with a vet or are keen to hear more about switching to organic farming.
"This the most effective way of disseminating information, but it also brings together like-minded producers looking for answers to the same questions."
She urged producers to consider the good and bad elements of their businesses. "Review every aspect of what you were doing before F&M. Farming incomes have not been good and nothing much has changed in the last six months. But there is too much at stake to start farming again without seeking outside advice on where improvements can be made."
Cumbria vet David Black agreed that restocking would be stressful for producers. That makes it more important to buy high health status stock, he said.
"Be aware of the risks of bringing cattle and sheep health problems on to the farm. Disease-free farms deserve to be restocked with disease-free animals."
Mr Black, of the Paragon Vet Group which organised the meeting, advised seeking information on livestock diseases to avoid introduction into new herds and flocks. "Purchasers must be conversant with health certification, covering a range of diseases including bovine virus diarrhoea, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, salmonella and leptospirosis."
• Plan business first.
• Seek expert advice.
• Avoid bringing diseases in.
Consider the bad and good elements of a business when making plans for restocking, says Nancy Tweddle.