Currency volatility just adds to the uncertainty

EU ministers have finally done a deal in Greece. It’s all been pretty standard European Council stuff. All night meetings which enabled ministers to stagger out bleary eyed and insist that they’d battled as long as possible for the best possible deal. It was all the same when Richard Wright and I used to sit outside ministers’ meetings in Brussels 20 years ago waiting for them all to come out. (I was much younger. Richard doesn’t seem to have got any older.) British newspapers have trotted out lots of utter drivel about the Germans, tediously rehashing stereotypes of the sort John Cleese satirised brilliantly in Fawlty Towers almost 40 years ago.

We’ve been sold the idea that we’re lucky to be outside the euro because that means our Government can borrow irresponsibly and then just devalue the currency. The problem for agriculture and for business generally is that the pound moves about. Currency volatility is making life very difficult for UK farmers. The pound is strong (a bad way to describe it, incidentally – it’s not a virility symbol) against the euro, making our exports less competitive. If it falls, inputs get expensive. It gets you either way. What we need is for it to stay where it is so we can get used to it and plan ahead.

This week’d Farm Business takes a close look at the effect on dairy of living in an uncertain world, with me quoting experts on the market and AHDB Dairy chairman and dairy farmer Gwyn Jones. There’s controversy between RABDF and AHDB over what the levy should be used for and Meurig Raymond’s been explaining the importance of farming to Labour MEPs.

The NFU has also been wondering aloud what’s going on in Britain when an application for emergency use for neonicotinoids has been turned down, despite the fact that similar changes have been made in several other European countries.

As well as considering the state of the industry we’re thinking about how you’re going to produce food, with everything from Jim Webster on flies to crop establishment and black-grass. Michael Wale has met a professor who’s fighting mildew and Professor Simon Leather, Professor of Entomology at Harper Adams University, makes a plea for the future of plant science.

At the very back there’s a reminder of the great and growing importance to the Halal trade of the UK sheep sector. It’s nothing if not timely. If the post works and I’ve understood the website of the London Central Mosque correctly, Ramadan has ended. If you’ve endured a month of daylight, fast when daylight’s at its longest – celebrate with British lamb.

Chris Lyddon
Editor, Farm Business

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