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  • farmersfriendlincs


Updated: Jan 31, 2022


In my opinion the largest change that UK farming is encountering is the political and environmental change being demanded of it to action “cyclical” or “green” farming, albeit without a crystal clear image of what this looks like, but rather a series of paths or desires to follow that may be subject to adaptation.

It is a fact that whilst the haulier, the seed merchant, the land agent, the agronomist, the slaughterman and the butcher can all get paid for running their business in line with the description of their roles the farmer is expected to not just farm, but also be an instrument of public and government policy in managing the countryside and all its treasures regardless of whether it creates an income or is rewarded/compensated financially. In my opinion, this task is easier for those with non-intensive livestock to manage, but the arable farmer (typically, but not exclusively of Eastern England ) and the intensive livestock rearer have a harder path to follow to retain viability in the newly developing environmental economy.

Yet change can take many forms and the most serious ones that most farming businesses experience are usually close to home involving the death or illness of a key person in the business; especially when people die in the wrong chronological order causing succession plans to be thwarted.

Other changes may be local conditions, drought, flood, or the closure of a nearby livestock market or abbatoir.

Ignoring, trivializing, or fighting against change can be costly, and in some cases result in the farm business failing. When referring to a farm business failing, note I strongly believe that the planned closure of a farming business, whilst emotionally often felt as a failure, can be a positive action and should not be regarded as a failure.

How good are you at managing change in your farming business?

The following test of 10 questions is designed to help you consider this. If you wish to take the test be as honest as you can be. If a question does not apply to your type of business answer with what Inumber you choose, so the lowest score possible is 10 and the highest is 40.

A. How would you/or if you grow rape did you cope with the withdrawal of neonicotinoids?

1 – I carried on growing rape and hoped for the best.

2- I reduced the amount of rape I grow to see how it faired

3- I gave rape a miss for a year to see how others faired

4 – I stopped growing rape two to three years before the ban.

B. What would happen to your farming business if you died tomorrow?

1 – I don’t know.

2 – I have a will, it wouldn’t be my problem

3 – My family know who to contact to sort the farm and I have a will.

4 – I have a simple contingency plan written down with contact details and instructions that my family and the key people in the business are fully aware of and keep it up to date.

C. Which best describes you and your farming business?

1 – I have been farming exactly the same way for 30 years.

2- My farming business has changed; but I like to see my neighbours change first.

3- I have a job keeping up with changes in technology and farming practises as I am so busy.

4 – I listen to and read farming media and keep up to date with and consider all new changes and techniques and equipment.

D. How open minded are you towards new ideas and potential changes to your farming business?

1 – I’m not.

2 – I am careful/cynical about change

3 – I cherry pick those that excite me

4 – I constantly look at and explore new ideas and potential changes.

E. How often do you talk to either your customers or your suppliers about change?

1 – I don’t

2 – I hadn’t though about that. That’s a good idea.

3 – Frequently

4 – Regularly in planned formal and informal meetings and discussions.

F. Do you know what you are likely to be doing in three years time?

1 – Yes, the same as now.

2 – Possibly the same as now

3 – Mostly the same as now with some changes

4 – I have a clear business plan that gives me a direction, but I will consider adapting it.

G. When did you last consider changing your Bank, Solicitor or Accountant?

1 – Why would I?

2 – I am happy as I am.

3 – Seven years or more ago

4 – Less than seven years ago.

H. If you or a key employee broke a leg what would happen?

1 – I’d be buggered.

2. – I think I’m insured

3. I am insured, or at least have funds to one side for a rainy day.

4. – No problem. I have a simple written contingency planthat I, my family and key employees are all aware of.

I. How often do you use the internet.

1 – I don’t there is no signal

2 – Only when I have to

3 – It is an essential tool I use a few times a month

4 – I use it regularly, at least once a week and have invested in ensuring I have access to it.

J. If somebody voices something I disagree with I….

1 – ignore the stupid bastards.

2 – don’t take them seriously.

3 – listen and consider what they say.

4 – I engage with them and try to see their point of view.

Your score possibly indicates the following:

10 – 15 : You resist change or are unsure of its potential benefits and pitfalls. Overcome your fears and learn to plan for change.

16 – 30 : You understand the need or imposition of change but are unsure how to deal with it.

31 -40: You understand change and see it as a continuous process to be managed and where appropriate embraced for the benefit of you and your farming business.

In my next post I will explore understanding change.

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