Farm machinery sales are up, and grain prices are on the move although they have a long way to go before covering the cost of production. Interestingly the agricultural colleges are finding the demand for well qualified students is far greater than they are able to supply. An encouraging sign, and one which defies the outdated opinion that the average age of present day farmers is around 60.
Far from it; there are a very healthy number of highly intelligent, well-educated young people working across the agricultural industry, and many more in the pipe line.
Dairy farmers remain under intense pressure. As reported in the Farmers Weekly; following 30 months of milk price decline, the rolling price for July was down to 23.4p/litre, which is 7p/litre below the cost of production. Milk revenue makes up 90% of the dairy enterprise income, and purchased feed represents about 25% of total costs.
As we approach the start of the more expensive winter months, with the price of bought in feed likely to increase, this will cause added pressure on dairy margins.
The strain on dairy farmers is related to supply and demand, but more so to the incompetence and greed of supermarkets, and their blasé attitude to the agricultural industry, and this valuable commodity which is essential to the health and wealth of the nation.
If any UK industry should be considered an appropriate candidate for intervention, it is time to deliberate about re-introducing the Milk Marketing Board. Before it is too late to save the British dairy industry.
The season of party conferences is almost over and to date there has not been much sign that agriculture is very high on the agenda of any political party
Labour which met in Liverpool and advertised their conference as, ‘the largest and most high-profile political event in Europe, was certainly entertaining. Hard as I tried, I have been unable to track down any mention of agriculture during debates.
The Lib-Dems met in Brighton where they hardly caused a ripple and certainly did not hit the headlines. Again, no sign of agriculture being debated.
UKIP went to Bournemouth where they elected a new leader called Diane James. Having taken a straw poll over the weekend at various events, I found no one who had ever heard of her, and none knew she was a South East MEP.
Nigel Farage one senses is relieved to have flung off the burden of leadership. According to reports he has been summoned to return to the USA to help Donald Trump become more competent for his next face to face with Hilary Clinton!
As Nigel Farage’s passion is for his country, but Donald Trump’s passion is for Donald Trump, I expect he will be wasting his time. However, it seems that the big money is still on Donald Trump becoming the next President.
It is difficult to comprehend that a country with a population of nearly 325 million, can reach a point where they have to choose between two people that 50% hate with equal intensity.
As I write, the conservatives are gathering in Birmingham, where the Prime Minister is laying down some hard facts regarding the timetable for pulling out of the EU. She will be prepared to trade with the EU if they wish us to continue to buy their goods, but the free movement of labour and immigrants is none negotiable. She also recognises that she has a powerful mandate which she is not afraid to use. The majority of the British electorate have spoken, and she is not prepared to ignore their wishes.
It will be interesting to see if agriculture raises its head at this conference. I have my spies in place and I look forward to receiving regular reports which I will share next week.