Trade Talk by Robert Meadmore

12th December 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, it is an apt time to reflect on the events of the past 12 months.

Most areas of agriculture, and definitely the fields that I operate in have enjoyed a respectable but not record year.

Whether you voted to leave or stay, the drop in the value of sterling certainly helped sheep producers in all parts of the country.

There certainly was some vagaries in the sheep industry this Autumn with breeding ewe lamb sales very easy to achieve but yearling ewes of all breeds more difficult to place.  This would be indicative of an ageing farmer population where there is a willingness to keep sheep but an inability to lamb them.

Cattle business has been encouraging during the entire year and it is very evident that at least in Mid-Wales only decent cows are kept with very little second quality animals being offered.

Diversification is high on the agenda in this part of the world with men who have been lifelong sheep and cattle keepers beginning alternative enterprises such as poultry, goats and hospitality.

As touched on previously, an issue I have is the unavailability of avenues into farming for young people.  In Herefordshire, the County Council has decided to sell its small holdings.  Obviously this has created some degree of controversy.  Several different bodies keep making the right noises about young people and agriculture but results are yet to show themselves.

Myself and my colleagues are concerned that there are some stiff challenges involved in Brexit and beyond.  All that is certain is that these challenges can be no greater than those faced by farmers in the past, and I am sure that the men and women I work with will face them and overcome them!