Tom Chanter: AHDB needs to shout louder about its work

The arrival of our friendly sheep farmer to electric-fence our grass leys marks the beginning of autumn.

We’re going to start cutting maize imminently – certainly earlier than last year – which can only be a good thing, especially as we hope to turn the land around and put in a winter crop.

Meanwhile, the beef market is beginning to take a dip. Store prices have, for once, been coming back in line with the finish price, which should put all producers back on a more level playing field.

See also: Tom Chanter – Tractor prices make me long for a high-hours hero

We shall see what the next months bring, with no-deal Brexit fears being bandied about and, of course, coronavirus, which is beginning to feel like a terrier that keeps bringing a ball back time and time again.

The results of the AHDB survey of levy payers seem on the whole a bit negative. That that might be down to current circumstances, although I also believe it’s because it isn’t clear enough what the AHDB is actually doing.

At the start of the pandemic, the balancing of beef carcasses was thrown wildly out by panic-buying of mince. This meant that added-value cuts of beef were not being sold and cheaper cuts were flying off the shelves.

The AHDB, along with supermarkets and processors, worked hard to address this and clearly it worked well, as the beef price was soon on the up and a variety of cuts were being sold, rather than just cheap ones.

But unless I had gone out of my way to read what the AHDB had been doing to help the marketing of beef during lockdown, I never would have known about it. So it strikes me that one of the most important things the AHDB could do is actively advertise what it is doing for all in agriculture to see. It’s very easy to be critical of a group if it is not publicising all the work it is doing.

In my former life as a nutritionist, I always made sure my customers understood what I was doing and, if possible, measured the change to demonstrate why they should carry on taking the advice I was offering.

If the AHDB embraced the same principle, farmers would be more satisfied – providing they’ve made positive changes in the first place, of course.

In a no-deal Brexit world we’re going to need the AHDB and other farming bodies more than ever, so let’s hope they’re all ready for the fight ahead.