Spring is just around the corner and farmers locally are making tentative first assaults on spring field work, but as prices continue to slide only the oft unfounded optimism that goes hand in hand with agriculture drives us on, writes Ian Stancer.
The infectious nature of spring means we’ll all soon be charging headlong towards harvest but for now patience may be the best policy.
By the time this hits the news stand I shall be attending the NFU annual conference in Birmingham. As ever there will be interesting and inspiring speakers, and as it’s a presidential election year there will be a buzz in the atmosphere and a real squawk rather than a gentle tweet on social media. I expect that the main topic of conversation as well as the political debate will centre on the ‘Brexit’ argument; outsiders may assume that farmers would be staunch advocates of the EU and its core principle of cheap, plentiful food through farm subsidies, but my experience suggests that farmers reflect society in general in being very split in their opinion. In order to represent the membership properly the NFU has so far maintained a neutral stance, which can only be right. However, the emphasis will be on trying to extract as much information out of government as possible on both sides of the potential outcome, to give everybody the tools to make an informed decision.
Conference also marks the end of my tenure of county chairmanship; thanks to everybody who’s supported and encouraged me along the way, and I hope my successor Chris Wray enjoys the experience just as much as I have.