Farmer Focus: New entrants need dedication

November is often a month of change, and it often confirms the arrival of winter.

The recent mild, wet weather has allowed grass growth to keep up the intake. If it can carry on into the new year, it would be much appreciated.

Finished lambs have continued to leave the farm at a steady pace and the recent slight price rise has been long overdue.

Read more from our other livestock farmer focus writers 

During the recent NFU Cymru conference there was talk of future supply contracts with retailers.

Co-operation is a must in our industry and this is an area where we, as lamb producers, could gain by reviving a stabilised price. And in turn, will make future planning and investments easier, which is something that has often held our sector back.

But this will only come if we are prepared to work on our ability to provide a consistent product.

We must come to terms with the fact that often our product isn’t always what consumers want. With ever-changing eating habits, we must be versatile and respond to market demands.

This is something we are trying to address by analysing our kill-sheet data in greater detail. It’s helping us make the link between live and dead classification.

With the help of our new Stocktrace management software and EID tag reader, the number crunching will be done for us.

The theme of the conference, which I was fortunate to be asked to speak at, was the next generation and encouraging people into the industry.

I’ve always been of the opinion, for the benefit of the industry, that we shouldn’t be portraying it as something it isn’t, just to encourage new entrants.

If people want to enter into a career in agriculture they must realise that it’s hard work and requires nothing but 100% commitment and dedication, often with very little in terms of financial reward.

Even those from farming backgrounds must justify their place and realise succession is a privilege that needs to be earned, not taken for granted.

For the greater good, surely entrants will stand in better stead for the future if they have succeeded to carve a career from their own hard work, rather than because they’ve been on the receiving end of endless financial support.

Support would be of much better use in the form of mentors, practical experience and opportunities for those who have sound business plans.

Tom Jones

Tom lives on a 200ha upland beef and sheep farm near Lake Vyrnwy, Montgomeryshire. He also has a contract shepherding business looking after ewes locally.