"Give a man a reputation as an early riser, and he can sleep ’til noon." Mark Twain
The uplift in cattle prices of recent weeks slowed in week ended 11th May read more
With more new season lambs entering the market, the dynamics of the trade have started to change read more
Provisional data for April milk deliveries of approximately 1,111m litres are 93m litres (7.7%) down on the previous year read more
In April, the DAPP averaged 160.9p/kg, almost 4p up on the month. At the same time, the average retail price came down by a small amount read more
The GB weekly average price fell by £7.68/t to £295.35/t and the free-buy average fell by £22.02/t to £368.39/t. read more
The first USDA estimates for world production in 2013-14 forecast record maize and wheat production, citing larger planted areas and a rebound in yields from the US (maize) and the Former Soviet Union (wheat) read more
The USDA has released its first soyabean supply and demand estimates for the new season read more
UK malting barley export prices are at €245/t FOB (spring, South Coast) w/e 11th April. read more
The latest National Statistics produced by Defra on the activity of UK hatcheries and poultry slaughterhouses. read more
USDA’s latest quarterly stocks report, released on 28th September, estimated US maize stocks (at 1st September) at 25.1m t, down 12% on the same point in 2011 and the lowest since 2004. read more
Jeremy Courtney believes education and progressive reform of the CAP will help to prepare agriculture for future generations, Iona Walton reports
Building a commercial business around the farm’s assets, rather than relying on the farm’s core activities to provide a steady income will ensure the future of many small family farms, but embracing this approach will likely prove difficult for many.
Jeremy Courtney, Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, has farmed in East
Sussex for five decades and believes farmers and producers need to accept farming as a way of life, as opposed to just a means of making a living.
“Young people need to be encouraged into the industry and we need to promote agriculture as an interesting, challenging and rewarding career unlike any other,” he says. “The way forward for those keen to thrive in terms of profitability is diversification.”
But while Mr Courtney talks of his “love of cows and confidence in the system,” a keen business head rules his decisions.
Since buying his farm in 1963, his 60-cow herd of Friesians and 40ha has grown to 200 Friesians, 150 followers and 200ha of arable. Key to the healthy finances of his farm, however, are the 220 caravans stored in his fields and 20 deep-sea shipping storage containers.
“Our diversification has been phenomenally successful,” he explains. “In the 1980s I converted some farm buildings into 22 offices and workshops, which are leased to businesses from carpenters to a nursing agency. Rent is increased by 5% a year for the first five years, which is built into the contract.”
Such was the success of his conversions that Mr Courtney set up a commercial property letting and management agency, through which he manages 600 similar rural units.
“I recommend that farmers continue to convert redundant farm buildings into offices or workshops,” he advises. “Make them windproof, watertight and warm, but with no frills. People would rather pay cheaper rent.”
A graduate of Lackham College, where he studied agriculture, Mr Courtney advocates that education is crucial to the future of farming in the UK. “We need an agricultural workforce that’s more educated than that in other European countries, it will be the only way we can compete with our neighbours.”
In his role as Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, Mr Courtney is well placed to champion his ideals.
“We run courses and financially support anyone who wants to attend,” he outlines. “The Advanced Farm Management Course and Rural Leadership Course are both three weeks of intense study for 20 individuals, and Henman Scholarships are available for 18-24-year-olds who want to work abroad.”
Membership of the Worshipful Company of Farmers is growing and a younger demographic is coming to the fore. From 300 members 10 years ago, figures for 2010 number some 400, two-thirds of whom are connected with agriculture.
“Events organised throughout the year offer a fabulous networking opportunity for members as well as the past five years of course attendees and the atmosphere is one of support, learning and fun,” says Mr Courtney.
Issues key to the agricultural industry are discussed and Mr Courtney hopes that CAP post-2013 will see direct subsidies retained and a switch from the environmental schemes we see today to new measures aimed at tackling climate change. But while he wants to see the safety net of direct payments remain, he recognises the need for more farmers to embrace the market.
“Farmers must get closer to the marketplace,” he says. “Subsidies will inevitably be reduced, and those countries that prop up business with subsidies must stop so as to create a level playing field.”
For more information visit www.jeremycourtney.co.uk or www.farmerslivery.org.uk
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