Business Update

From AF CEO Jon Duffy

Overcoming challenges to meet demand

As a child of the 60’s I have a vivid memory of the long hot summer of 1976. The complete lack of rainfall meant that parts of the country introduced water rationing and we had standpipes in the streets. Things got so bad that the then Labour government even introduced a minister for drought. As an 11 year old though I thought it was wonderful. I spent the whole summer outside; we ate outside, we played outside, and for much of the summer my bothers and I even slept outside in tents.

I only have vague recollections of how the farming community coped but I do remember the impact it had on the family diet: my mother introducing us to pasta because the price of potatoes was so high, my father expanding the vegetable garden because of the lack of some green veg in the local shops, and experimenting with making some very dodgy homemade bread.

Fast forward to 2018 and we have had another 1976. The biggest impact has been borne by those livestock farmers on a forage feed system. Much winter forage has already been fed and the cost of buying in replacement feed continues to be huge in many cases. In a fair world the cost of the finished product would rise to meet these increased costs – I just hope that the milk and red meat sector play ball. For broad acre arable farmers many have had the easiest harvest for years. Whilst yields are down, high commodity prices have compensated. With high prices continuing into 2019/20 the area of wheat and OSR should be high this autumn. The most remarkable thing about this summer though is the attitude, professionalism, and stoicism of our members. I am just glad that being an AF member means that we have been able to help in keeping input costs as low as possible.

I wonder how the 11 year olds of today will remember the summer of ’18 when they get into their 50’s? I hope they recall the barmy long days and a carefree period, but I also hope they remember that our great British farmers kept producing wholesome, safe, and affordable food.

Jon
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