Farmer Focus: After 150 articles it’s time to say goodbye

After penning 150 Farmer Focus articles spanning 13 years, it is time to give the keyboard a well-earned rest and say goodbye from these pages. 

Looking back to my first piece in 2010, not a great deal has changed. My focus then was the weather, politics and environmental stewardship schemes.

See also: Why farmers need to do their sums before altering 2023 N rates

About the author

Andrew Blenkiron
Arable Farmer Focus writer
Andrew Blenkiron manages the 4,400ha Euston Estate, south of Thetford. Principal farm enterprises are combinable and root crops, including sugar beet. In addition the estate supports let land, sheep, outdoor pigs, poultry, suckler cows, horses and stewardship.
Read more articles by Andrew Blenkiron

If you can remember that far back, it was a cold, slow spring and we were facing a general election that would end a very long run for one of the main parties.

As I was then, I am still hoping for confirmation of a new Countryside Stewardship agreement. 

What has changed is quite dramatic in so many ways – the fundamentals of how we, as farmers, will generate our income in the future.

Cast aside is the support system that has guaranteed our business survival over the past 50 years, indicating that it’s time for dramatic change.

Will the markets take up the challenge and pay us what we need for our produce? Somehow, I find it difficult to believe, given the financial pressures that our consumers are facing.

The retailers will just not allow this to happen. We have gladly joined them in the race to the bottom of any sensible pricing mechanism.

We are all collectively to blame – not only have we failed to work effectively together, but we have actually enjoyed undercutting one another to buy market share. 

In addition, I really must share my frustration that some who read these pages can’t see the blindingly obvious benefits of demonstrating how well we produce food, the assurances we can deliver to ensure that, and consequently the premiums that we can charge as a result. 

So what if others around the world don’t have to follow the same rules? Life never has been fair; it never will be. All we can do is continue to demonstrate our point of difference, help in promoting that, and all pull together.

Finally, I would like to thank those of you who have offered your friendship, suggestions, feedback and invites to events over the years. It has been a truly wonderful experience being involved with this fantastic magazine.

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