A trio of challenges greets farmers at the start of 2022 – making the beginning of this year one of the most uncertain in recent times.
The first challenge is political and economic uncertainty. Almost six years have passed since the Brexit referendum and farmers are still grappling with an ongoing lack of detail about the government’s policies for the sector.
The second challenge is social. It includes the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and devastating impact it is having on human health, supply chains and the wider economy – as well as labour shortages.
The third challenge is arguably the biggest of our times: the environment. It includes the need to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we strive to secure a Net Zero future.
Solutions to these challenges remain largely out of the hands of individual farmers. But we can all do our bit. And it remains clear that well-managed farm businesses are among the best performing whatever challenges are thrown at the sector as a whole.
Farmgate prices are up across most sectors – with the notable exception of pigs. But so too are input costs. Fuel and fertiliser prices especially have reached eye-watering levels, making good business management even more important.
At the same time, we have just seen the first cuts in farm support as the government phases out the Basic Payment Scheme. These cuts will continue apace – with payments halved by 2024 and gone altogether by 2028.
Savvy farmers will already be trying to replace any lost income. But doing so is more easily said than done – and will often involve hefty investment, learning new skills and seeking out new business opportunities.
But success is possible – even if it takes us out of our comfort zone. Despite the challenges faced by farming across the region, we wish all our readers a happy new year and all the best for 2022.
For more stories like this, follow this link