Last week I was very pleased to organise and attend a study tour for the Cardiff Monitor Farm group which covered Staffordshire and Cheshire. Over the space of two days we visited four extremely different farms which provided us with an excellent contrast in farming methods. At the end of every farm tour we asked our host, ‘What are you doing to future-proof your business?’
Although the answers from our hosts were very different in content, the message from each of them was very clear. Each farm was ensuring that, whatever the outcome of the next three years, they wanted their business to be self-sufficient without the support of subsidies. Over the course of the trip we saw this demonstrated in many different forms, be it diversification, adapting crop growing techniques, slashing production costs or maximising output.
If our farming support system does change, then is it best that farming businesses are ready for this possible change or simply reacting when they are forced to? The answer to this question is yours alone.
This question ties in nicely with the ‘Vision 2020’ theme which is being adopted at the new Hereford Monitor Farm. Over the course of the next three years, new monitor farmers Russell Price and Martin Williams will scrutinise their own businesses in order to help other local farmers challenge and critique what they are doing. The primary objective is to strengthen their own businesses and in turn those of the group members. Through their journey I am positive that there will be a huge amount that local farmers can learn and apply to their own situations.
I can’t promise that attending a Monitor Farm event will provide anyone with the answers of what the future landscape of UK farming looks like. Can any event provide that? What I can promise is that in attending you would be joining a group of likeminded individuals whose common goal is to future-proof their business. In my job I am fortunate enough to meet a huge variety of farmers and you would be surprised how consistent the challenges and opportunities which they face are.
Come along to your local Monitor Farm summer meeting:
Bridgnorth – 31 May 2017
Leamington Spa – 7 June 2017
Cardiff – 26 June 2017
Hereford – 27 June 2017
For more information cereals.ahdb.org.uk/monitorfarms