Farmer Focus: Monitor farmers inspire positivity

I hate November – it is usually dull, wet and cold, and the beginning of winter.

So, as the AHDB is looking for suitable candidates to set up a Monitor Farm in Northern Ireland, I headed off to Milton Keynes to attend the Monitor Farm conference to see what information I could pick up.

I found it a most interesting and enjoyable two days and I met a number of forward-thinking and enthusiastic farmers.

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

The conference was very well organised with an excellent lineup of speakers, who all gave informative and thought-provoking presentations.

There were also breakout sessions where we could discuss topics in more detail.

Straightforward solutions

What impressed me the most was the positive attitude of everyone I met, despite the considerable challenges we are all facing.

Financially, agriculture is not in a particularly strong position right now and there may be further potential problems ahead with Brexit. But the general view seemed to be “we are where we are, so let’s find solutions to fix it”.

Many of the speakers highlighted the benefits of working together, sharing problems and trying new approaches. The take-home message was that we should all examine our businesses closely and change where necessary – doing nothing is not an option.

It’s a pity Michael Gove wasn’t there – he might have picked up some innovative ideas while also learning about all the good things many farmers are already delivering.

All this was in sharp contrast to the seemingly endless negativity coming from the media and too many of our politicians around a Brexit deal and, for me in Northern Ireland, the potential issues with the border.

I am convinced there are solutions, many of them straightforward, if people would just knuckle down and get on with doing the deal rather than continually nitpicking and putting up barriers.

It is without doubt in everyone’s best interests for the UK and the EU to continue trading as now.

Maybe we should get all the Monitor Farmers to conduct the negotiations – with all their positivity, they would undoubtedly make a better job of it.

Happy Christmas to all.