As we look forward over the coming year, British agriculture is having to manage uncertainty – much like any other sector. Britain’s departure from the EU is not the only issue. Farms are also having to take on board the full implications of the government’s ‘25-Year Strategy for Food and the Environment’ and its relatively recently published Agriculture Bill.
In that context, I think it’s fair to say the proverbial glass, while certainly not empty, is at present not considered full either – not least because nobody can actually say what a full measure might look like.
Whether it is half full or half empty, though, is hotly contested.
At the recent Oxford Farming Conference, possibly because of the presence of the Secretary of State, farming leaders seemed to lean very much towards half empty. They expressed concerns about cheap food imports not meeting required standards, the issue of exporting to Europe, the withdrawal of farm area payments and ensuring government objectives are as focussed on food production as on environment enhancement.
These are all legitimate concerns, but as I meet up with farmers in their workplace there are many who also see the glass as half full – maybe in certain cases three quarters full!