Farmer Focus: Farming is economically unsustainable

Hopefully 2020 is starting on a more positive note. Many people across the country will have been more than a little surprised by the scale of the Conservative party victory under the leadership of Boris Johnson.

Dare I suggest that this is what happens when parliament loses touch with the electorate and delivers three years of indecision and stalemate.

That is not what we elect our politicians to do. A clear message has been sent to this new parliament to get on with governing the country, as that is what we pay them to do, hopefully in a sensible manner and in a spirit of co-operation.

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My plea to this new government is to use its sizable majority wisely and not to completely ignore those who did not vote for it.

This means that Brexit will now happen by 31 January. This will bring many challenges, particularly for agriculture, but also many opportunities.

There are those against Brexit and those who are fully supportive. I am somewhere in the middle, but believe that it will act as a catalyst for change.

Depressing figures

I feel our industry is in a race to the bottom, lacking confidence, innovation and investment, and facing constant criticism.

The figures across the board – total income from farming, average age of farmers, lack of young entrants, accidents and suicides – are depressing.

NFU president Minette Batters recently said that farming is currently “economically unsustainable”.

She is absolutely right, and it has been like that for quite some time.

A totally new food production policy is required and we now have an opportunity to create one.

It should be based on producing the maximum amount of food within our own country for our own people, and only importing what we are unable to produce.

That way we can control what we produce, how much, and how we do it. But it must be based on economic sustainability.

That means big changes not only within our own industry, but also within the supply chain – greater co-operation, communication and a fairer distribution of margins is essential.

I believe that most farmers are up for those challenges and can succeed.

And on that positive note, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!


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