Farmer Focus: Being an ‘expert’ no guarantee of accuracy

If I were to advise a young person today on a career in agriculture, I would tell them to become an “expert”.

Along with a low initial investment, being an expert isn’t overly reliant on accuracy.

In the thirty years I have been farming, I have read and listened to a great many experts who advised me on everything from banking, to raising pigs, to the weather, to buying land.

During the first few years I farmed, the experts advised strongly against buying land at the price of USD200-USD400/acre (£144-£288/acre) because it was simply too high and wouldn’t cashflow.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

The real future for young people was to rent land they said.

Having a genetic predisposition toward bull headedness, I bought all the land I could borrow money for.

Remarkably a new set of experts now say over the past 25 years the very best investment a farmer could have made was land.  

I think all of us can remember the experts of 2008-2012, who told us the sky was the limit on profits from farming for the foreseeable future.

I guess we should have asked what the foreseeable future meant. I think many of us assumed with all the hoopla surrounding the idea that the world would need a 100,000% increase in food production by 2050 (or something like that), it meant the happy days would last forever.

Fortunately, I also have a genetic predisposition to pessimism, which meant I didn’t really believe it would last, even though I hoped it would.

The experts of 2016 now predict gloom and doom. Evidently, the amount of extra food needed is going to fall short of a 100,000% increase, and prices aren’t going to be all that great.

In fact, some experts are advising that a great many of us may go broke. Many experts suggest non-farm income to supplement our meager earnings from farming.

With that in mind, I have decided to become an expert myself. In the USA they say to be an expert you must be 150 miles from home.

This leads me to believe I need to specialise in being a UK farming expert, so being 5,000 miles from home should make me pretty valuable.

Email me to discuss my fees. There is a 50/50 chance my advice will make you money. Of course, there is also a 50/50 chance it will drive you into bankruptcy.

 Brian Hind farms 1,250ha of prairie land, of which 960ha is family-owned and the rest rented. Of this, 330ha is arable cropping with maize, soya, grain sorghum, alfalfa plus a mix of rye, triticale and turnips for grazing his herd of 400 beef cattle. Grassland is used to produce hay.

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