The Arable Group’s (TAG) 2005 biannual conference on Wednesday (February 9) at the Scotch Corner Hotel, dedicated to questioning the implications of the Mid Term Review changes for arable farmers, was attended by 170 delegates.
TAG conference 2005
Farmer controlled businesses – as opposed to farmer co-operatives – were the way forward for arable producers to get a bigger slice of the profits from the food chain, Cranfield School of Management economist Sean Rickard told the conference.
Farmer controlled businesses, run by a team of professional managers, would provide the benefits of scale and management skills while the business units were allowed to focus on their individual elements.
“Some producers are already thinking like that – look at successful farmers in the US. Coming over the hill is GM and when it arrives the foods you produce are going to be increasingly specialised,” said Mr Rickard.
“You can only release the true value of that in the farmer controlled business relationship. The SFP will come down probably quite markedly in the next 10 years. Farming accounts for 4 per cent of the rural economy. The one thing you can say about farming is that it is only going to create fewer jobs.
“We have some breathing space, but it’s now that people who are serous about farming should be thinking very carefully about the business they are in. You have the power if you choose to have a much greater influence on the food chain as a collective group.”
While he believed that farmer controlled businesses were the way forward, the stumbling block was the mind set of farmers and the difficulty of convincing farmers to move ahead