REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL: ONE, TWO, THREE
Published 25 April 2022
Farmers are not always renowned for their optimism. But despite the difficulties, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful, says Tom Corfield of Arnolds Keys - Irelands Agricultural.
Anyone who works in agriculture will know that there is always a reason to be downbeat. Too much rain, not enough rain, decisions by faceless bureaucrats seemingly hell-bent on making life difficult for farming, soaring costs, unstable markets: the list of things which can – and do – go wrong is endless.
Farmers could be forgiven for looking on the gloomy side. The continuing repercussions of Brexit, a chronic shortage of labour (leading to soaring wages), sky-high fertiliser costs, confusion about the transition from BPS to ELMS, not to mention a European war: it’s difficult not to be pessimistic.
However, after a few days of sunshine, I can’t help being optimistic. Yes, farming faces challenges, but it’s time to look on the bright side and count our blessings. Things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.
The first reason to be cheerful is that despite increases in input costs, the market for food is strong, and this is likely to continue for a sustained period. The war in Ukraine, coupled with other supply issues, is forcing up output prices, especially for grain. It may cost more to produce food this year, but the rewards are higher as well, and assuming it comes into the barn in good conditions, 2022 harvest results could be very good.
Reason number two for optimism is that 2022 looks set once again to be a ‘staycation summer’ -great news for those many farmers who have diversified into the holiday letting market. A year ago commentators predicted that Britons would once again head off overseas this year, but the war in Ukraine and continued Covid disruption means that the UK will once again reap the tourism benefit.
The third reason to look on the bright side is the weather. After a couple of years when the climate gods seem to have been conspiring against agriculture, 2022 has – so far – seen fairly good weather. Yes, we could do with some rain now, but on the whole crops look well as you drive around the countryside.
There are other factors which should be putting a smile on farmers’ faces: cattle prices are strong; we are finally getting clarity on the transition to ELMS and what it actually means; and just perhaps the contribution that farming makes to British life is more appreciated by the general population as we emerge from Covid than for many years.
Those of us who work in and around farming have the best job in the world, for all the challenges.
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