Farmer Focus: Take care what you wish for this New Year

As another year begins I always feel full of optimism for the year ahead.

If we can have last year’s weather with this year’s predicted prices, I shall be a happy man.

I gave up making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago as I never seem to be able to keep to them.

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This year I shall give myself very loose targets to achieve – I find these much easier to keep to. The first on my list is to improve my grassland management, but I seem to remember saying exactly the same thing last year and with too much grass, my best-laid plans went down the pan.

My second objective would be to have a neat and tidy office, where I can find things straight away. But even as I write this I know I’m kidding myself, as the joy of finding a pen that works under a mountain of paperwork is still a thrill I need to overcome before I tackle my office demons.

As nearly all my records and tags are electronic, I would love to have the time and inclination to do more with the data. It is something farmers need to become better at, as capturing and recording is one thing, but using it to improve performance will be the winner.

Both beef and lamb trade look to be improving nicely. The added bonuses of less lamb coming from New Zealand and less beef from Ireland means a shortage can be a good thing.

But I think we must be careful what we wish for, as an increase in price is great, but we still need to be able to make red meat affordable to the consumer in the long term.

Maybe I’m being too simplistic, but I would love to be selling both lamb and beef on a fixed contract  so we know what we are going to get rather than taking another rollercoaster ride with the prices.

Usually over the Christmas period something goes wrong or breaks down and this year it was inside the house.

My three-year-old daughter Isabelle decided it would be a great idea to make a Barbie swimming pool in our utility room, with both taps running flat out and the plug in.

She found seeing half a dozen dolls swimming among shoes, wellies and washing powder most amusing!

James Evans farms 300 Stabiliser suckler cows and 1,110 Llen cross ewes across two units, totalling 825ha, in Shropshire. He was 2012 Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year

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