Farmers must embrace change

ROYAL AGRICULTURAL Societies have agreed a four-point plan to encourage a culture of change, fearing producers have become “transfixed by uncertainty” over the future of farming post CAP reform.

Agriculture needed vibrant, viable businesses, Ben Gill former NFU president and meeting chairman told delegates at the Constructive Management of Change conference, Stoneleigh, Warks.

Change would not happen overnight nor, indeed, at all depending on producers‘ points of view, he warned. Industry figures suggest 30% would embrace change, 50% convert slowly and 20% reject change.

“It is this last group that need social and psychological mentoring – not technical support – to help them accept change and survive or decide on an exit strategy. To do this is not failure,” he said.

The four-point plan should see Societies assist groups managing change with producers such as the Warwickshire Rural Hub.

Focus will also be given to introducing international benchmarking ahead of freer world markets, ensuring producers receive update training, and assistance for rural support networks.

The strategy itself would not guarantee change, warned Eric Wilson, a retired executive. “The ‘want to‘ attitude is missing – people have got to want to change,” he warned.

That mentality had already been adopted by the next generation, argued Notts-based young farmer Mark Spencer. “They are more focused on profit and have a global perspective.

“We need a burst of reality – if farming doesn‘t deliver profit the young will give it a couple of years and leave (the industry) to find jobs that do. Gone are the days of live for today and farm for a hundred years,” he warned.

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