Farmer Focus: Supply what consumers want to survive Brexit

It has been an excellent autumn for sowing cereals here at Euston.

A reasonable amount of rain fell in mid-September, serving to moisten the land just enough to allow cultivators and drills to penetrate the soil and warm it enough to aid rapid germination.

Again we are focused on milling wheats and seed barley to bring our future fortunes. Indeed, one could argue that we could almost key into a price that covers the cost of production – thank goodness for weaker sterling.
That fact, of course, makes me think about the future. Where will exchange rates be in a couple of years’ time?

See also: Read more from our Arable Farmer Focus writers

What will demand be for the crops that suit our soils and climate after Brexit? No doubt we will all have to be even more adaptable than we have been in the past to survive the future brave new world that we are about to encounter.

Fingers crossed that we don’t have to endure a New Zealand-style fallout following their removal of direct support some years ago.

I would argue that we are ready for the challenge in most sectors, with a mass of efficient growers and livestock producers prepared for the fight.

Many of these guys are being sensible enough to produce what the market demands and realising that we have developed a massive asset to guarantee to our customers that we deliver.

That asset is the Red Tractor assurance scheme and brand, which gives those guarantees, not only at home, but to export purchasers as well.

We have all worked hard to develop it. Now it is time to really get behind our scheme and press the message home.

I seriously fail to understand those who just don’t seem to get any of that, those who continue to generate out-of-spec produce that the processors struggle to place.

Those who continue to blame others for the fact that they are penalised on price for not giving their customers what they actually ask for.

To survive we really are going to have to shout about how good we are. This will have to be supported by evidence and not just anecdote.

Believe me, if someone doesn’t start telling some home truths to those who let the side down, we will all suffer.

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.

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