Not for every farmer

By Digital Media

Over the Gate by Jeff Swift

I recently noticed a headline that suggested the only way forward for farmers was to diversify. Now I don't write headlines but, if I did, I would not put it quite like that.

Not only do I believe it isn't true, I don't believe it is sensible. With a bit of thought if you really understand farming, the addition of one small word would make a headline which would be both correct and sensible.

If I were to write the headline it would read The way forward for SOME farmers would be to diversify'.

When you look a bit closer, it is obvious that every farm does not readily lend itself to diversification, nor is every farmer cut out to diversify.

It will be readily understood that there is much more involved with diversification than having an idea and putting it into being. Many have tried to diversify but only some have been really successful - and good luck to them.

You may remember I have written that the way forward in my view lies in the expansion of the quality of whatever we produce. Such is my advice - which of course is free, but you know what they say about free advice? "It is worth exactly what you pay for it".

But hang on a minute, people up and down the country have been paying for advice that suggested they expand the numbers of livestock, poultry, crops, etc. Some people would say that advice had been "wuth nowt."

You may or you may not agree that it makes sense to strive to produce better - not more - meat, better not more milk, better not more eggs and so on. It is not rocket science, it seems to me to be just common sense.

While I'm at it I might as well say (not for the first time) that I don't agree with Lord Haskins when he says "part-time farming is the way forward." My suspicious mind asks: "The way forward for whom?" Are we talking about multi nationals being able to force down further the pitiful price paid to the producer. His lordship is a clever and able man and I'm going to agree with him but only when he's right.

Farmers are needed to do what they have spent years learning and training for. This business of people looking after more and more stock in order to cut costs as well as going out and taking another job leaves a lot to be desired.

It doesn't get any better for I have just learned that a committee or working party has been appointed to put into being the recommendations of the Curry Report - and guess what? There isn't a farmer on it.

Who was it coined the phrase "Auntie knows best?" Help, I can hardly stand the excitement. This is where I came in.

Dialect word: Tift meaning to pant.

Thought for the day: Advice is the only commodity on the market where the supply always exceeds the demand.