Farmer Focus: Neil Thomson asks if media to blame for market volatility

I am irritated by market volatility. My gripe is that the difference between affluence and poverty is increasingly outwith our control because of enormous swings in the prices of everything we have to deal in. So we turn to “experts” to help us cope.

I know that volatility is what makes markets tick, and a market without it is not a market at all. I also realise there are huge global influences. But can it be that some of it may be fuelled by modern media communications?

There is an insatiable demand for news, with stories hyped up with such frenzy to fill air time that massive swings in moods and, therefore, prices that used to take months to occur can happen in minutes.

Look at the panic over food prices and the sea change in opinion in the biofuels debate, or GM crops.

Here in Scotland, the BBC has sidelined a well-respected agricultural journalist just when a reasoned voice on such topics might mellow market place moods.

I was asking for timely, frequent showers in my last column, but we’ve had frequent deluges, with 26mm falling overnight recently.

Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been too much crop damage in the area, but the lack of sunshine and warmth worries me. I suspect that this year there will be little winter barley cut in July.

The combine we share with two neighbours has returned from its winter service, so with a bit of luck it will chomp away happily without any mishap. But we decided that 2800 acres was a bit much for one machine to attempt up here.

So, to avoid ridicule from other neighbours and to the relief of the older generation, we have another hired to help us get through it all. Maybe just as well.

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