2009: Key industry figures look ahead

What are the big issues facing farmers in 2009? Key industry figures do a bit of crystal-ball gazing to predict the future

Lyndon EdwardsLYNDON EDWARDS

Chairman, RABDF

Milk prices are likely to come under further pressure as processors witness the fact that producers’ input costs are falling – fuel, and more than likely, feed. However, don’t lose sight of the fact we’re under-quota, a trend that is very unlikely to reverse. Furthermore, importing one million litres a day is a far from cost-effective solution for the industry and never before have we seen so many processors actually advertising for supply. Therefore I believe that dairy farmers’ long-term future continues to remain secure, however for those who commit, investment will be essential, together with a willingness to adopt a raft of proactive measures to reduce costs, increase efficiency and moreover, remain competitive.

TB, bluetongue and costs and responsibility sharing will continue to remain high on the agenda. we have to ensure that government agrees policy decisions based on common sense and that add no further burden, cost or otherwise, to dairy farmers.

Patrick HoldenPATRICK HOLDEN

Director, Soil Association

The coming year is quite possibly the most important organic farming will ever face. I believe 2009 marks a whole new chapter of change for the food industry which is facing a crisis because of its dependency on fossil fuels and centralised distribution.

Organic farming has the solution to that crisis.

We have a loyal customer base and the links we have forged with the consumer will ensure organic farming continues to prosper.

But the organic movement is not immune from the economic downturn and 2009 will not be a time for the faint-hearted.

We must respond positively. We will be driving the message harder than ever that organic farming delivers what the public and the government want – a viable, environmentally responsible agricultural industry.

adrian-ivoryADRIAN IVORY

Farmers Weekly Farmer of the Year

For both beef and cereals, keeping costs down will be essential. It looks like 2009 will not be as buoyant a year and paring down non-essential costs will be vital in keeping businesses profitable. We have to work out costs of production and plan carefully.

In the light of the dioxin scare, maintaining consumer confidence in beef will be key. We will need to promote the high-quality British product to encourage shoppers switch from buying high quality beef to low quality meat cuts. We will also have to keep our wits about us with bluetongue and other diseases.

Coming up tomorrow… Gareth Vaughan, Jim McLaren and Alistair Mackintosh

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