Archive Article: 2000/04/14

14 April 2000




Ian Brown

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

Ian Brown is a third

generation tenant on the

156ha (385-acre) Lee Moor

Farm, Rennington, Alnwick,

Northumberland where he

grows winter wheat, barley

and oilseed rape as well as

spring peas

THIS is my last Farmer Focus article and, much as I hate good-byes, I shall sign off by telling you my inner thoughts on the future of farming.

The past year has been a defining period for Lee Moor as we move further away than ever from being a typical mixed Northumberland tenanted farm of about 160ha (400 acres). And, I guess, I am moving with it in terms of my views. I do not apologise for this, on the grounds that the strategy taken was one of survival and I think that many people within the industry are living with an anachronism.

To illustrate just where I hope we will end up, and at the risk of being foolishly brave, I shall pretend we are in 2020.

Co-operation with other farmers is on a higher plane than ever before. But it took the 1998-2003 farming recession to make it happen. Commodity prices did eventually pick up after that, but too late for 15% of farmers.

Here, we survived by diversifying and becoming a re-training centre for rural people. Lee Moor continues to be a demonstration and educational site, one of many such centres that justify the k6bn of rural funding a year in the UK. The aim is to deliver the things the British public demands for its beloved countryside, the things that cant be delivered from the free market post the 2003 WTO agreement and CAP reforms.

Coming back to the present, I am both scared and excited by the future of the countryside. There are many opportunities to seize, but my Achilles heel is the cash. Needless to say I will work with whomever I need to so that the plans that live in my head are delivered.

Lastly, I would like to thank Andrew and Charles and the team for the opportunity and, of course, you the reader for taking an interest, perhaps because you are local to me, know me from the YFC/NFU or perhaps because what I said struck a chord. &#42

Ian Brown has a 2020 vision for the future of Lee Moor farm, in this his last article for farmers weekly. It envisages a future after the 1998-2003 farming recession. But 15% of farmers will have left the industry.


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