Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Life imitating art

The battle over the future of Bridge Farm in The Archers has been won by the hard headed business case over the more sentimental 'way of life' arguments associated with Pat Archer's affection for her cows. I thought that possibly the script writers were a bit behind the curve as in today's economic climate farms have to be run as a business. But I am also aware that farmers work very long hours in arduous conditions for returns that are often little better than the minimum wage, particularly on livestock farms.

It was therefore interesting to see a 'way of life' argument from a farmer who said that if money were the driving force he would be better cashing in and living off the interest (I don't think he would get much of a return at today's rates unless he moved into risky products). He took exception to remarks made by agricultural economist Sean Rickard who said that the weather was not to blame for small producers not being able to cope. The farmer argued that the weather affected everyone. That is true (subject to regional variations), but I infer that what Sean Rickard was arguing was that larger farms have a better capacity to cope with such events, e.g., they have more access to finance and better economies of scale.

Consumers are attracted by visions of the traditional family farm, but one also has to be hard headed about the financial dimension if the business is to survive and prosper.

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