Farmer Focus: Future needs us to keep positive and control costs

To progress, do we be negative and end up with vegans and politicians ruling everything? Or do we adopt a positive mindset – after all, the human population needs food.

The plethora of scare stories really doesn’t help. If vegans double in number and double again they will still be a tiny minority.

Trying to delay the implementation of subsidy cuts isn’t going to stop it. Let us get on and produce fantastic food. 

About the author

James and Belinda Kimber
Livestock Farmer Focus writers James and Belinda farm 850 commercial and pedigree sheep and 30 pedigree Simmental and Charolais cattle in Wiltshire across 95ha (45ha owned) with the help of their children Josh, Izzy and Richard. James also runs a foottrimming business and Belinda has a B&B.
Read more articles by James and Belinda Kimber

The AHDB advert – which I hope you have all seen – promoting a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle is brilliant.

It is not having a go at any particular group, just reinforcing the idea of enjoying food in a balanced way.

See also: Regenerative farming helps cut risk for sheep and beef farm

Running scared of New Zealand lamb will not progress British lamb one bit.

My previous article tried to highlight the lack of profitability in lowland beef and sheep but, as with any average, there are farms doing well.

If you are not in the black, it’s time to assess every part of your business. The government has provided some funding, clawed from the subsidy reduction, for business consultation.

I’m not sure the experts know any more than the rest of us, but an opportunity to have outside analysis could potentially highlight some areas.

We have looked at strengths and weaknesses on our farm. We are selling lots of high-quality lambs but have high borrowings. Using the lamb cheque to push down borrowing makes sense.

Rising input costs need addressing. We use little fertiliser and hopefully muck and clover will negate the need to buy any in.

Nearly all our machinery work is contracted out. This will become more costly, so how do we maximise our silage?

The next biggest bill is vet and med. We are at record low antibiotics use so most of the money is on preventive health schemes – I’m not sure how we make any further savings.

Then we have lamb pellets. Do we feed 1,000 lambs ad lib next spring to speed up their sale, helping cashflow and reducing workload? Or do we grow an alternative forage to push weaned lambs on?

Feed conversion efficiency declines with age and size. Longer on farm means more time for fly, feet and worm treatments and for them to fulfil their desire to leave this mortal planet.