We are some way from knowing the detail of future English agricultural policy, but there are clear signs that it will be geared towards the delivery of “public goods”, requiring farmers to adopt measures that provide and manage habitat and food sources for wildlife, protect soils and improve water quality in return for funding.
Beef and sheep producers saw price improvements compared to 2016 and the dairy and pig sectors are in a very different place, compared to 12 to 24 months ago. Arable farmers were rewarded for working through a catchy harvest with reasonable yields and stronger prices for cereals and oilseeds.
UK JT Issue 10 – Forum Questions
Q. Please tell us a little about your background, what areas you specialise in and your strengths as a consultancy business?
A. Andersons specialises in the provision of business advice to farmers and growers throughout the UK. I personally have worked in Andersons for over 20 years and a significant proportion of my clients are dairy farmers. As advisors, we focus on business issues and particularly concentrate on profitable farming and farming systems.
Dairy farmers are starting to see the benefit of improved milk prices and it is fair to say that those improvements came just in time.
Although prices have increased, some dairy farmers are still challenged due to the carryover of unpaid invoices or higher debt taken to cover shortfalls in income between 2014 and 2016. Depending on the system of production, the scale, debt levels and cost of production of individual businesses, we believe it could be some years before the industry recovers fully.
The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU has undoubtedly improved the prospects for the arable sector in the short term.
Longer term, however, a vast amount of uncertainty still hangs over future trading and support arrangements. How should combinable crop businesses react to this new environment?