If I think back to my youth, you usually had an idea of what price you could expect to receive for whatever you grew. And you’d know before it was harvested.
Sadly, not even a crystal ball would help today.
I have been browsing through the weekly report from Canadian genetics company Genesus, and it was interesting to note that in the US currently, corn (I presume they mean maize) can be bought for $110/t (£82/t), so the analysts think that feed costs will remain fairly low for a while yet in the States.
The week before the report was published, there had been 70,000 more hogs through the US slaughter plants than a year ago – a total of 2.338 million head. It seems as if producers are shoving as many head as possible into the plants while the dollar is a bit weaker and export demand is still high.
Apparently there are six or seven new processing plants coming online in the US. One plant in particular, operated by Prime Pork, is dedicated to taste and flavour, which is what drives real demand and consumption. I thought our packers were doing that already.
There is still an air of buoyancy here and producers are taking advantage of that to further improve their units to become even more efficient for the future and when prices fall again.
That could apply to the whole of UK farming, as it is still a gamble and, on the arable side, I hear reports that the new Mid-Tier conservation scheme is not attracting many takers – which does not surprise me as I have spent hours trying working out how to avoid being imprisoned!
I still have little idea of what the Government will pay for various parts of the scheme, and now that we need to keep 5% of our arable land for greening, there will soon be little land left to farm!
I am beginning to think that butterflies and hedgehogs are going to be deemed more important than food crops. Yes, we need to preserve nature and, yes, most creatures contribute to farming, but there are limits.
Lots of students will have recently completed their farming degrees and will be looking for a route into agriculture. Does the industry have opportunities for them? Do we need new blood to give us old fuddy duddies new ideas? The answer to both is yes: we do need fresh talent while there is still a bit of experience around.