Jacob Anthony: Self-sufficiency matters – and here’s why

Is bigger always better? This is a debate that’s been discussed for years in agricultural circles and evokes a wide range of opinions.

The Covid-19 pandemic adds another dimension.

It’s important that we all have the drive to improve our businesses and keep them moving forward to make them as profitable and successful as possible.

After all, we are caretakers for the next generation, and all want to be able to leave our farms and businesses in a better place for our successors.

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Does this necessarily mean expansion by taking on more land or ramping up production, though?

In common with most young farmers, the thought of expanding excites me, especially with all of the potential opportunities that can come with it.

However, the current circumstances have put a big question mark against this viewpoint.

Labour shortages

Over recent weeks, there have been some concerning stories of farmers with larger operations having serious labour shortages.

These large-scale units have been brave enough to take the financial risk to expand and provide employment, which often proves crucial in helping keep rural economies afloat, only to find themselves in major worries as they rely so heavily on their staff.

Smaller-scale farming businesses have their own merits and benefits, some of which – such as their ability to function without any outside help – have been highlighted more than ever at the present time.

From my business’ perspective, I am very thankful that when the chips are down, we can manage without any extra labour, although it can be tough.

If I have learned anything from the current unprecedented situation, it is that having a farming business that can be managed with as little reliance on others as possible is a strong positive.

Farmers are constantly having to deal with a huge range of variables, and we often can’t predict the outcome when making decisions.

Farmers are professionals at adapting, adjusting and dealing with unexpected issues.

No one could have predicted the sheer speed at which coronavirus has spread across the globe, causing so much heartache, as well as bringing countries and their economies to a standstill.

This truly has changed the world, and it’s making us all look at things very differently.

We all agree about the importance of a country being self-sufficient when it comes to food production, but what about the self-sufficiency of our own individual businesses?

Until now, never have I realised the extent of how important this virtue can be.