Farmer Focus: Are we facing a financial rollercoaster?

As we enter another new year, I find myself reflecting on what to change for the future.

In reality, it is a little quieter on the farm and, although it sounds grand that I am reflecting, in practice, I need to fill my head with something.

2020 turned out to be the second-wettest year here in recent times, surpassed only by 2012.

See also: How to manage brown rust disease in barley

I didn’t expect this to be the case, as 2019 seemed much wetter, although 2020’s rainfall was more frustrating because of its frequency.

We had some very dry months and some very wet ones, which felt slightly ironic, as I was paying for irrigation during the year. The question is what do we do about it?

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to drill everything I intended last autumn.

I’m certain consultants would tell me I am overequipped and overcapitalised for the area I farm. What do I do? Buy more kit to cover the same area in a shorter time?

In reality, I suspect the answer is much more fundamental. I need to answer the question: How can I use the changes in agricultural support announced in December to my advantage over the next few years?

It seems likely my crop mix will need to change, but what to?

Will my crops be what conventional wisdom dictates they are now? Or will some of my “crops” actually be services provided to owners of land?

Does it matter if I’m not producing food? What can I actually do with the resources under my control? What are the opportunities?

It is not going to be easy. I suspect we will be on a financial rollercoaster, with different peaks and troughs.

I did take a day out to join the excellent online Oxford Farming Conference. There was plenty of food for thought there.

The evening debate had an interesting result, with first-generation farmers deemed better than fourth.

Given the conference is considered an establishment event, this perhaps proves how things are changing or, possibly, that the first generation are more tech savvy when it comes to voting!

There is plenty to think about as the work starts again.

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