Charles Mills, farmer and Show Director of the Great Yorkshire Show, shares a message with the farming community at the start of a new year.
Like anyone else at the start of a new year, as a farmer, I take stock and look at what’s important for me and my family, and in my world of work.
On the farm, this means trying to read what forces are shaping the markets my business operates in and plotting the right path.
After that, in the months ahead, it’s all about being nimble and determined enough to adapt as the landscape changes.
It is a wonderful thing, to take the time to pause however briefly to look around you.
The feeling of beginning afresh at the start of a new year can be an invigorating thing, even when fortunes feel mixed.
Farming, much like life in general, is all about seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges by exerting our influence over the things we can control.
We can control how we embrace new ideas and how much notice we pay to the ways our industry is changing.
We can nurture our own support networks so that we have support around us when things don’t go to plan, or we need a fresh perspective to rise to a particular challenge.
I hope we can all be mindful of the things we can control and influence as we journey through the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
Working hard to keep a sense of perspective can give us strength to draw on.
A big year ahead
We all know that this year is a big one for the industry. Direct support payments which we have been so used to receiving are now being gradually phased out.
Many of us who received Basic Payment Scheme monies over the last month will be counting a first shortfall with degrees of trepidation and the shift comes when there is real volatility across different farming sectors.
The respective difficulties in the pig and poultry industries have been well-documented and remain hugely trying, both financially and emotionally for affected farmers.
The entire farming community is hopeful that these situations will ease but these are particularly testing times, and we must continue to look out for our friends, neighbours, and peers.
In some other livestock sectors, prices are better and for some farming families at least, this is providing a welcome buffer at a time when all in farming are experiencing massively inflated input costs.
Arable farmers have seen the cost of fertiliser rise exorbitantly over recent months, for example.
What we will be doing at the Society
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society will play its part in the months ahead, offering opportunities to come together as a community and to develop professionally through training and bursaries.
YAS will champion and promote the industry, not least by holding the Great Yorkshire Show on 12-15th July.
Naturally, as Show Director, I’m excited about the promise of four glorious days.
In the meantime, there is plenty to look forward to. This Sunday (9th January) we come together at Ripon Cathedral for the Plough Service, with refreshments served from 2.30pm before the service begins at 3.30pm.
Blessings will be offered to farming families as our crucial roles as producers of quality and nutritious British food and as guardians of the countryside and environment is celebrated.
Everyone is welcome and if you are attending, please do a lateral flow test for your own reassurance and to protect others.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the year ahead, as we look to the future with hope, ambition, and purpose.
This article first appeared in The Yorkshire Post, 8th January 2022.