The Farmer – The Property Chronicle
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How uninvited guests can bring unexpected delights Farmers are apt to rail against uninvited people on their land. I am no exception, yet the farm would be a poorer place without them. ‘The 1066’ runs out from Pevensey Castle’s Roman walls and Norman keep, along our riverbank and on across the county. On a busy summer weekend, several hundred people will cross the farm and in the week it can be nearly as busy. Many thousands of visits in a year. In the depths of winter or in bad... Read More >

Recent Articles:

US dollar food commodity prices have risen 40% since the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020. This sharp price jump, shown in the graph below, has reversed a painful period of farm produce deflation during the previous seven years. In fact, farm Read More >

Why preserving the irreplaceable benefits everyone and especially moths. The names of moths are a delicious smorgasbord of rich imagery. Our evenings are festooned by Dusky Footmen and Ruby Tigers, Death’s Head hawkmoths and even the Scarce Read More >

What farmers can do to prevent it. Farm vehicles have long been considered an easy target for thieves because of poor security measures, such as universal keys that can be used to start any tractor and the failure to use Read More >

Among the many quotes attributed to Einstein, the following seems most pertinent as we look to the future: ‘'The significant challenges we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created them’. Undoubtedly Read More >

Our farms can be both wildlife-friendly and efficiently productive. Nirmal Purja, on completing his unique winter climb to the summit of K2, reflected that “Mother Nature always has bigger things to say”. The roar of the wind on that Read More >

I was five years old when my father decided to move to the north of Scotland, to farm at the edge of the world and the edge of the farming world. Why do I describe it thus? To the north, the east and southeast, his neighbours did not Read More >

Policy change is creating opportunities and challenges for farmers across the UK  As if the challenges created by our exit from the EU and the pandemic were not enough, the UK farming industry must also come to terms with the Read More >

This article was originally published in February 2018. In this commentary I review the years since my return to the family industry (the most recent of them managing third party capital into agriculture, via Craigmore Sustainables LLP). I Read More >

Messing about in boats, you come across all kinds of creatures – but it’s not the wild ones that chew your ear off. Beavers do extraordinary things. While paddling canoes down the River Tay this summer, a local naturalist in our small Read More >

My loyal reader knows full well that I escape to southern seas for the winter months, and all winters are mere memories. Having experienced earthquakes, cyclones, fires and shootings across the waters, I am now ‘locked up’ in my home county, Read More >

This article was originally published in Summer 2019. Farming in the UK is changing faster than anyone realises. There will be winners – and losers… The UK farming industry is facing a period of radical change that most farmers are Read More >

This article was originally published on 25 May 2017. Property rights lie at the heart of civilisation - not just in terms of commerce, but in the ability to safeguard long term interests and express natural territorial needs. Whether it is a Read More >

This article was originally published in September 2018. Part 1 – Complexity and the burden of history With the result of the Brexit vote leading to a long, complex and, to date, pretty fruitless period of negotiation to tease British Read More >

Communities, whether they are villages, farms or even flocks of sheep, work best when they work together. Late last Sunday night a 6ft 6in tall policeman carrying a machine gun came to the farmhouse door. I had responded to a cry for help Read More >

This article was originally published in April 2020. Activists who condemn all livestock agriculture indiscriminately might want to consider the ecological benefits of pasture. At Montague farm we raise organic, grass-fed, single-suckled Read More >

This article was originally published on 11 April 2018. I received a text message recently from the tenant of our converted granary. It requested that I telephone her immediately, there was a problem requiring my urgent attention. On calling, Read More >

The last months have seen unprecedented change as all have faced up to the challenge of the pandemic. For many, it has meant working from home rather than the regular commute to the office. As we emerge to the new normal, however that is Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 23RD OCTOBER 2017 As a shepherd, it is important for me to know the value of a sheep. This is tested when attending a sheep auction, when I will need to be decisive and disciplined in sticking to an assessment. The Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 11TH NOVEMBER 2017 Dear Editor, We have entered the season of early, dark nights. Some enjoy closing the curtains, lighting the fires and settling in for the evening: some pine for the longer days and more time Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 9th MAY 2018 Introduction – the danger of being a farmer at MBA school (or at a dinner party) MBA schools characterise farming as a commodity industry, subject to negative weather events and low returns. Farmers are Read More >

There is a raging debate in the UK about whether and how UK farmers should be protected from foreign competition in the execution of its trade policy. It threatens to divide the Conservative Party between their classical free traders and those Read More >

The highest recorded age to which a Lapwing has lived is 24 years and 6 months, in Denmark, with the runner up, also a Dane, and “killed by man”, greater than 23 years and 7 months. More often they live for five or six years, breeding for Read More >

This dastardly 'Chinese Virus' has challenged us all. 'Lock down' (we used to call it 'Lock up' at school) creates new initiatives and priorities, passions, promises and intentions. I desperately try to use the time to learn new skills and read Read More >

Amongst the many quotes attributed to Einstein, the following seems most pertinent as we look to the future. ‘’The significant challenges we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that we were at when we created them’’. Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SPRING 2019 I am going to have to repair the farm drive In the depth of winter we begin to organise summer farm maintenance. This year we plan repairs to the farm drive.  We have a treelined avenue that Read More >

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SPRING 2019 The subsidies disappeared all at once – but farming on the bottom of the world is more profitable than ever The prospect of Britain’s departure from the Europe an Union is creating demand for Read More >

The most significant policy innovation during the 2008-2009 financial crisis was Quantitative Easing (QE); the central bank purchase of financial assets using printed money.  During and after that financial crisis many investors who Read More >

  'Let's talk of graves' Richard Il iii ii. This is a property magazine and what more valuable, long lasting piece of real estate can be bought than a burial plot. Once purchased, dug and occupied then a suitable inscription is required. Read More >

Farmers will gain new opportunities from carbon offsetting, which will change how land is used and valued Investors are increasingly familiar with the concept of stranded assets: previously investible assets that a changing framework makes Read More >

Dear Friends and Colleagues, 1. Will agriculture finally out-perform energy? This Commentary explores the likely pathways of food vs. energy commodities in the 2020s and ‘30s. It explores key factors including renewable energy and Read More >

Unleashing innovation is the key to a new, improved British agricultural policy  As discussions on the future of UK agriculture continue, many have given voice to their dreams – and indeed their nightmares. The vision of the Department Read More >

Global population will soon start to fall, making much farmland redundant  The world is heading for demographic change more quickly than many foresee, bringing challenges of a kind not faced since the fall of the Roman Empire. We will Read More >

With the support of the Atlas Network, CapX is publishing a new series of essays on the theme of Illiberalism in Europe, looking at the different threats to liberal economies and societies across the continent, from populism to protectionism and Read More >

When winter bites, there are few better places to escape to than New Zealand. I’m just not too sure about the names of the sports teams. ‘Tall Blacks’ and ‘White Caps’ anyone? A degree of smugness accompanies those who leave these Read More >

Pesticides and GM crops: the facts We live in a world of instant communication and 24-hour news, where the power of social media alone means any story can be transmitted at the press of a button. Such technology is both exciting and fantastic Read More >

Farms are peculiar assets. Returns are undeniable – but inaccessible. And subsidies, it seems, only make things worse. Farms are capital-intensive businesses, with land, buildings, fixed equipment, working capital for labour, livestock, Read More >

Despite the best possible conditions, hundreds of species of bird are dying out before our very eyes. It may be too late for some – but action can still save others. It is possible that part of my life’s work in conservation on the Read More >

The chiffchaff, willow warbler and wood warbler are not easily distinguished from one another, except, as discovered by the curate of Selbourne, Gilbert White, at the end of the 18thcentury, by their respective songs. To the casual birder Read More >

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 Read More >

My heart goes out to the people of France. The image of the burning cross taken from the air above the enflamed cathedral of Notre Dame is shattering. Its ruination, though, is causing immediate redemption. People all over France are pledging Read More >

There are two types of invertebrate on our farm that I refer to as “the enemy”. They are the fly and the liver fluke, one an external parasite and the other an internal one, each the bane of the health of our cattle and sheep across the Read More >

It is always a pleasure to come across someone who makes you proud to be British. Baroness Trumpington, who died, aged 96, on 26 November, was one such person. While she will be remembered for her career in politics, especially for several years Read More >

The marking of territory is as instinctive as it is practical. Elephants do it by ripping out trees, certain dragonflies by flying in repetitive circles. When I first surveyed a population of Shoveler ducks on the North Kent marshes, their Read More >

In June 2018, the London Wheat Futures market was hovering around £150/tonne. Whilst this represented a modest improvement over the position 12 months earlier, there seemed to be little to get excited about in terms of market movement and the Read More >

What are the regional effects of climate change on farmland / crop yields?  As can be seen from the green (benefiting from climate change) and red (suffering from climate change) areas on this map, organisations like the World Bank are Read More >

Most of us have probably heard that the we need to increase food production by 70% to feed the world in 2050.  Sounds impressive.  Sounds like an opportunity to make some money. Agriculture is the new black! Add to that the lack of Read More >

The construction of the World’s largest vertical farm, in Dubai, was recently announced. Effectively a high tech, multi-storied urban greenhouse, once built it will produce 2.5 tonnes of leafy greens a day, use no soil, and only 1% of the water Read More >

Dear Editor, I promised to pen a few points about family farm inheritance from a very personal and ill informed perspective, and below are some anecdotes on the subject. "I'm not very popular with some of Read More >

Having sufficient food is a basic human need. Sadly it is not always the case in certain areas of our world and many still die of famine. However in developed countries often its supply is taken for granted and not really valued. We expect full Read More >

On the Pevensey Levels we have recently formed a Cluster Group, formed of 50 farmers seeking to improve their management and understanding of wildlife. The mantra of "more, bigger, better and joined" comes from the 2010 environmental white paper Read More >

Kent is a beautiful county. Some of our residents and visitors do not deserve such beauty. Like most counties, Kent is plagued with litter on its roadsides. Well done to the cleaning up department of KCC as much of the rubbish dumped, thrown and Read More >

Shaun Spiers, until recently Chief Executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has written a fascinating, profoundly significant, and at times deeply frustrating book. Reading How to build houses and save the countryside filled me with Read More >

Whilst the politically embarrassing butter mountains and wine lakes of the 1980s have been consigned to the history books, agriculture remains central to the whole raison d’etre of the European Union. Indeed, it remains one of the few policy Read More >

Nature conservation on England’s farms has never been so important. While all biological measures are continuing to reflect drastic declines of almost all species, money is only available on a short term basis in a complex changing politic. Read More >

Mark Twain famously said ‘Buy land, they’re not making it anymore’ and in a world where population continues to increase, the relevance of that statement has never been greater. The pressures for use of land are multiplying, yet the demands Read More >

The global agricultural investment spotlight has moved ‘down under’ and is fixed firmly on the Australian dairy farm sector. Long overlooked as the ‘poor cousin’ of the agricultural sector, Australian dairy is now coming of age. Cattle Read More >

Dear Editor, I promised in my last letter to address the matters of property and agriculture in this epistle. Well rather strangely both topics come to mind as a result of two natural disasters that l have experienced here in New Read More >

These are changing, and some might say, exciting times at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Whilst not usually a high profile Ministry, the issue of BREXIT and the appointment of Michael Gove have certainly Read More >

Dear Editor, "What's the weather like with you?" The most common telephone question ever asked. We all ask it. It's a conversation opener rather like the glib "How are you today?" that greets us at check out desks, shops, banks, in fact anywhere Read More >

Both the Oxford farming conferences hosted Defra minister Michael Gove in January. At each he made much of a future domestic agricultural policy that has really been nascent for the last 20 years, that farmers should use their land to provide Read More >

Dear Editor, I have never been very keen on Australia. Snakes, sharks and poisonous spiders, busy, hot cities, remote, outback towns, vast expanses of nothingness. Australia is a nanny state full of restrictions, rules and limits. I flew Read More >

January is conference season for the farming industry. The long standing Oxford Farming Conference’s (OFC) theme is 'embracing change', with views being offered from the DEFRA Minister Michael Gove and balanced by thoughtful presentations from Read More >

Dear Editor, Are we really going to restrict the numbers of agricultural workers prepared to come here from Eastern Europe and pick and harvest British crops? Better, is it, to import food from overseas? Hardly makes sense. But where has sense Read More >

Farming in the UK needs nature reserves to work. The majority of biodiversity is conserved in protected landscapes, enabling conventional agriculture to have the dominant hand in the undesignated areas. However, increasing amounts of evidence are Read More >

Dear Editor, The harvest is mostly gathered in. Regionalised May ground and air frosts threatened the fruit that had enjoyed outstanding bud and blossom. Results were better than expected. Bramleys are now in store, Conference pears have been Read More >

All property is environment. To begin with, and before man’s interference, it is a wholly natural tableau, but as we bend it to our will true wilderness loses out. Landscape cover of farming, forestry and urban development in the UK affects Read More >

There’s a change sweeping Australian agriculture. The nation that was “built on the sheep’s back” and has had an enduring relationship with all things farming since white settlement in 1788, is undergoing a systemic shift in its rural Read More >

The skylark’s Latin name is Alauda arvensis. Roughly translated, it means exaltation from the field, an observation about its song and activity in asserting its territory. The lapwing, too, has a thrilling flight display when it first puts its Read More >

Vile murder has foul consequences. The shooting of Tristan Voorspuy in March this year was a totemic moment in an ongoing conflict. On 12 June, as reported in The Times, Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition in Kenya’s government, openly Read More >


Investor's Notebook

Smart people from around the world share their thoughts

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The Macro View

Recent financial news and how it connects across all asset classes

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Fintech, proptech and what it all means

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A sideways look at the world of wine

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The Architect

Some of the profession's best minds

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Residential Investor

Making money from residential property investment

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The Professor

Analysis and opinion from the academic sphere

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Face to Face

In-depth interviews with leading figures in the real estate/investment world.

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The Headhunter

Recruitment and career moves

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The Analyst

Investment themes and trends

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The Historian

A look back at previous cycles, events, characters

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The Economist

Money, rates and prices

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Political Insider

The inside scoop on Washington, Westminster and Whitehall

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The Agent

Reflections on estate agency, today and in past times

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Alternative assets

Investing in tangible assets

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