Lack of information delays farm planning

Despite the arrival of single farm payments, few farmers have a clear vision of how to take their businesses forward, according to HSBC Bank.

Head of agriculture Steve Ellwood said a survey of 120 farmers showed few felt they had enough information to make decisive decisions, and business planning was fragmented.

“Not many farmers seem to have been able to complete the chain from establishing what it costs them to grow a crop and using that information in their marketing strategy,” he told an audience at Cereals.

The bank’s data showed only 52% of farmers had worked out their costs of production for wheat, which averaged £64/t.

Two-thirds of farmers question-ed had calculated how their single payment income would shrink in the next three to five years, Mr Ellwood said.

Many farmers were pinning their hopes of better returns on Britain’s emerging biofuels industry.

“Half of the farmers that we surveyed believed biofuel demand for wheat would improve ex-farm prices by, on average, £4/t,” Mr Ellwood said.