Will’s World: Cold hard future for cold hard farm cash

Stop reading immediately if you happen to work for HMRC. Head over to the Letters or Farmer Focus pages; have some fun over there, and I’ll see you next week for the usual waffle and nonsense.

Have they gone? Good, now we can talk freely, because I’m worried about cash. It’s not just that I don’t have enough of the stuff, but the fact that it might well disappear altogether in the not-so-distant future.

See also: FW Farm Inventions Competition returns with £2,550 prize pot

If this sounds like the ramblings of a mad conspiracy theorist, just think about the speed with which online banking and contactless payments have changed our habits and businesses in recent years.

I can’t remember the last time I signed a cheque, let alone went into a high street bank, and just try paying for a pint with a £10 note in a city these days – they look at you as if you’re a relic from a bygone age.

I attempted it last time I was in London. “Sorry mate,” drawled the Australian behind the bar, “we don’t accept cash in here.” I’m not sure which I begrudged more – the fact that they wouldn’t accept legal tender, or that they charged me seven bloody quid for the pint.

Daily bread

For further proof of cash’s demise, have you visited an ATM lately? I went to draw out some cash recently from the one in our local shop, and it looked more neglected and unloved than a dairy farmer’s scraper tractor.

It even sounded a bit like a Ford 4000 as the notes eventually came clunking and spluttering out of the slot.

Of course, the youngsters – or “Gen Z” as we must now refer to them – pay for everything with their phones, and I doubt my daughters will ever think to do anything different. It’s just the norm these days.

I confess to having to do this myself for the first time recently when I accidentally went out without my Dad Wallet. “Do you accept Apple Pay?” I tentatively enquired.

“Everyone accepts Apple Pay,” the spotty teenager behind the counter sneered in response.

I silently resolved to empty out one of those oversized whisky bottles full of 2p coins onto the counter the next time I needed to pay for something in that particular establishment.

The real menaces to society are the people who pay for things with their smartwatches, and it’s not just the hipsters, either. My best mate of more than 24 years did this very thing in my presence not long ago, and I nearly ended our friendship right there and then.

“Have some decorum, man,” was the main thrust of my argument, as I theatrically slapped a crumpled tenner down on the counter in the manner men of our age should.

Short of the readies

I do have genuine concerns about how it might affect the farming community, though. What if someone wants to buy a couple of bales of straw from you, or you’ve just sold a steer in the market and you want to give the buyer some luck money.

Are we all supposed to pull card machines out of our overalls pockets? Even if we can get some sort of decent phone signal by then, it’s still a depressing thought.

Worst of all, are we happy that all our financial transaction data will be held by government and big corporations, who’ll have total impunity to charge us whatever they like for using our own money? I’m certainly not.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Look out for next week’s column, when I debunk the Moon landings and reveal who really shot JFK.