Worrying times for arable agriculture

The analysis of arable profitability in the very back of the latest issue of Farm Business (19th June 2015) is highly thought-provoking. It doesn’t look good. The problem for growers is that the time for planting decisions for a market after harvest 2016 is coming up fast. It all means the focus on costs is greater than ever, something I’ll admit I could have written in every single Farm Business since I started editing it. We’re taking a close look at fertiliser prices in the latest issue, with a welcome analysis from Jo Gilbertson at AIC of how the market works.

The focus on technology is also vital and we go into detail about seed treatments, with pieces looking at the use of some of the most important chemicals available to growers.

I reckon it’s great news for the farming industry that Neil Parish MP has been elected as chair of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have the greatest respect for Neil, who very kindly hosts the Food & Farming Industry Awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in December. He knows the industry and he knows the policies at UK and EU level. He may or may not appreciate our own Michael Wale’s assessment of him when I gave him the news. “Great bloke,” he said. “Nothing like an MP at all.”

Caffè Nero sent me a statement after we’d put in a report on the great badger cull milk in -coffee shops controversy. “Caffè Nero is not for or against this practice,” it said. “We sell -coffee.” Pointing out that 98% of its milk comes from outside the affected areas, it said it was reacting to “serious and credible threats against our team members,” and had asked the authorities for support. Now you might consider it reasonable to boycott a business because you felt strongly opposed to its policies. I do. There are businesses I wouldn’t buy from because they’ve taken a political stance with which I disagree strongly. There are businesses I won’t buy from because of how they treat their suppliers or customers. But I don’t threaten their staff, which is what appears to be happening here.

Farming and the issues which surround it are vital to all of us, inside and outside this industry. Cool heads, as I’m sure Neil Parish will be in the EFRA committee, are what we need. We need to make sure the hotheads don’t take over the debate.

Chris Lyddon
Editor, Farm Business

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