The hopes of the new Farmlife columnists for 2022

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Thank you to everyone who entered our Farmlife Columnist Contest. There were a lot of great entries, but we picked our favorites, and both writers will be regular contributors to our Farmlife page in 2022.

The winners were Lucy Nott and Mike Neaverson, check them out below and read the articles they submitted in response to our request to write an article titled “2022”.

See also: Bridgette Baker: It’s time for women to get behind the wheel (of tractor)

Lucy nott

© David Nott

Lucy and her husband, a sixth generation farmer, live on a 100 hectare arable farm in Worcestershire with their two children.

She holds a diploma in drama and a postgraduate degree in sociology of sport and has worked as a fundraising manager for the RNLI and the BHF.

“So I have a new outlook on the world of agriculture and I can’t wait to find my place and make my mark,” she says.

“We are passionate about regenerative agriculture and aspire to transition our farm to a regenerative system.

“In addition to that, we have submitted a campaign management request for 2022 and are part of the sustainable agriculture incentive pilot project.

“We held our first Leaf Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) this year and I am now the LOFS Ambassador for the West Midlands.

“We also plan to test a lot of new things on our farm over the next few years, so I should have a lot of real life stories to write.”

“Turn that passion for screaming on TV into action”

I don’t know about you, but mentally I’m still in 2019, still trying to process 2020, and I can pretty much accept that we’re at the end of 2021. So the thought of 2022 is almost overwhelming.

We’ve been through a sea of ​​change over the past couple of years and 2022 is shaping up to be the same.

My husband, Ben, and I are on the precipice of 2022 as two brave 27-year-olds, scratching our heads as we try to sort everything out.

We have supply chain issues, very high fertilizer prices, the end of BPS, the development of the ELM program, the trial of SFI and a changing climate to top it all off.

As we move forward in our succession, it is clear that we cannot rest on our laurels, plant cash crops and expect the markets to treat us well.

COP26 once again saw agriculture take center stage. Never before have the public been so interested in how their food is produced. But this is not a golden ticket. It’s a critical look that is cast on us, with a lot of misinformation circulating.

I’m sure you, like me, have screamed on TV more than once this year. Right now, we are at a turning point. We have to take this passion to scream on TV and get UK public support and support UK agriculture.

As a sector, we need to be the loudest voice in the room and shout from the bars about our high quality products.

This is an opportunity to educate the public about the sustainability of UK food and empower consumers to make informed choices when shopping.

With the expected rise in food prices, we need to re-value food, because it just seems like it is no longer enough to nourish and support us. Our products need a story. People buy from people.

So how is the simple family farmer supposed to take on this enormous task? The starting point is simple. Speak. Whether in person or online, to your best friend or to the postman.

Take the opportunity to answer questions and talk about what you are doing. What is rudimentary to you is fascinating to others. You don’t have to be in direct sales or have a large number of social followers to tell your story and make a difference.

On our farm, we have opted for access to education through our countryside stewardship program and we will be hosting school visits.

We signed up for Farmer Time and talk to a class of kids every week about life on the farm. We will also open our doors on Open Farm Sunday.

Today more than ever, as stewards of the earth, we feel that the weight of the world is resting on our shoulders. So let’s not focus on the immensity of 2022.

Focus on your patch, the changes you can make, the conversations you can have, and the story you can tell.

Good year? Let’s wait and see…

Mike Neaverson

Mike Neaverson in front of hay bales

© Mike Neaverson

Mike is a potato grower and independent agronomist from Lincolnshire.

A former student columnist for Farmers Weekly, he worked for a year in agriculture in New Zealand, a few stays in Antarctica and five years in the management of a large agricultural company.

“I came back to South Lincs and started my own business in 2017 and started my potato farm from scratch, operating entirely on land leased under a cultivation license.

“My father is a 200 ha farmer here and I am also involved practically in this business. “

“No bottle of wine should cost me more than £ 6”

I know absolutely nothing about wine except that white is for fish, red for beef and rosé for rewilders.

Choosing the right Christmas bottle from the alcoholic beverage aisles presented, as is always the case, quite a challenge this year. There is a risk of being a bit overwhelmed, just like I do as a simple potato farmer who slowly gets sunburned on a day of testing wheat.

Without any specialist knowledge, I had to develop some simple rules to aid in the vinegar avoidance process. I’m sharing my advice here, not because I’m presenting myself as a PR consultant for Blue Nun. On the contrary, I am sure that there is also something for us in agriculture.

Let’s be realistic. The sad fact is, I don’t really care about the wine as long as it tastes good and gets me adequately high; my customers don’t really care about my potatoes as long as they look good and can be properly mashed.

The first rule of buying plonk is that you should only buy wine with a matte label. I don’t really know what a merlot is, but somehow using a sticker that isn’t shiny adds at least a few pounds to a cheap sticker.

Second, I am an absolute fan of a pattern. Print an abstract design of a bicycle or rooster on the bottle and I am a buyer.

Last week I bought one simply because there was an old photo of an Australian criminal on the tag. Not such a g’day for the old guy.

If I’m so easily swayed by a dull label and bad footprint design, so must some of our farm customers.

Differentiation of our products is vital in a busy market, but almost impossible for commodity-producing corn growers. That’s why I’m focusing more and more on where I can try to do it.

The other requirements are cost – usually the bottle has to be offered, to subconsciously promote value. And because I’m just a humble potato farmer, no bottle of wine should ever cost me more than £ 6. I’m not an arable baron claiming the BPS, after all.

Inflation meant that this price limit must have increased over time. It was possible to get a pretty regrettable bottle of Flowery Mountain for £ 2.79 when I was a student ten years ago. The same bottle is now well above a five.

Yet many farm prices have stagnated despite skyrocketing increases in our costs – none more so than in recent months. As we move into 2022, it’s time for some business resolutions.

For me, it’s about focusing more on quality, differentiating my production and doing my best to push some of our massively increased costs down the chain in order to maintain a margin.

And to drink more beer. Good year.

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