FARMERS SHOULD “stop and think again” before committing themselves to another farming cycle, says Steve Ellwood, head of agriculture at HSBC Bank, which has just published its latest costings guide Forward Planning 2005.

“For over 30 years UK farmers have had a contract to supply basic commodities to the CAP. They have just lost it,” said Mr Ellwood. “In its place they are being offered not one, but two contracts. One to supply raw materials to a rapidly changing and highly competitive food supply chain and one to deliver “public goods” to the UK/EU populace.

“We anticipate that the majority of farmers will see their future in full time farming, but is their pattern of stocking and cropping going to get the best value from these new contracts?”

As well as estimated gross margins for most farming enterprises, the HSBC guide includes details of the single farm payment and other aspects of CAP reform.

Free copies are available from the bank’s agricultural managers.