Farmer Focus: Profitability will be hit hard in 2016

I have been asked to drag my crystal ball out of the cupboard in the farm office, dust it off and give my predictions for the year ahead.

So is Dave going to call his referendum in 2016 or leave it until 2017?

Either way, you are going to be sick and tired of hearing how good/bad the EU is any time soon.

This isn’t the time to go into the various arguments or to give my views on which way we should go, but I reckon he will sneak it in this year, particularly if he thinks he’s winning the argument for staying in.

See also: Read more from our arable Farmer Focus writers

Bank rates are likely to remain at a historic low until the second half of the year, when the ever-increasing consumer spending will force the Bank Of England to push them up.

Jeremy Corbyn will face a leadership challenge as the Labour Party presses the self-destruct button. The England rugby team, reinvigorated by Eddie Jones, will go on to win the Six Nations in 2016. No, sorry, 2017.

Even Eddie can’t manage that quick a turnaround. In the Olympics we will once again dominate in all the sports that involve sitting down or standing around. Russia cannot attend due to something they consumed.

Meanwhile, down on the farm things are looking pretty bleak, with no real signs of a substantial lift in farmgate prices.

This year’s budget is a difficult pill to swallow. In 2015 above-average yields for autumn-sown crops rescued us from the drop in forecast prices, but this is unlikely to be the case again.

The price of fuel will remain low and the cost of fertiliser has fallen, but most agrichemicals do not seem to be following the downward trend.

This means profitability will be hit hard.  Better cost control and more attention to detail, while doing the simple things right, is the order of the day.

Now is not the time for making any major changes. However, some small-scale trials will be undertaken to investigate future cost savings.

Despite all of this, have a happy New Year!

Simon manages 1,000ha of arable land at Dunsden Green, south Oxfordshire. Cropping is cereals, oilseed rape, beans and forage maize

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