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To Plough the Headland and be Damned

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Today I read a tweet from a farmer on the Lincolnshire Wolds showing his uncultivated field margin with the words, "Great over winter margin, but it will need to be worth £900/hectare to be there next year."

At this lies the crux of the problem every farmer has in that it is his function as a businessman to maximise profits. Now for all those that start to shout that farmers are stewards of the countryside need to consider that a farm only survives by either making enough profit to provide a living; or if it is loss making, by being able to appreciate in value enough to be able to be cashed in to repay debt and provide a living upon retirement. In the case of the tenant farmer, or those with a substantial part of their land holding being in the form of farm tenancies, the later, somewhat uncertain, option is not available to them.

So if we are to accept that farmers are not entitled to a livelihood funded by tax or subsidies we also need to accept the reality of the alternative; that is, to prohibit farmers doing what is necessary to make profits without compensation for loss of profit will have the effect of making the task of farming impossible and drive even more farmers from the land.

Yet I see this is what many that have a voice that is disproportionate to their wisdom seem to want. We need to understand that many trades can be jettisoned without significant loss to our society, but that of the farmer is the most important in both managing the countryside, the growing of food and in supporting a great tree of supporting industries that have their bills ultimately paid for by.........the farmer.

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