I am glad 2009 has finally passed so I can erase the memories
I hope you all had a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.
The situation in farming and the weather can only get better so let us all face into this new year with hope in our hearts for better things to come. When I am finished writing here I am going to close down this computer and not open it again for two whole weeks -- bliss! It is often the simple things in life which bring us most happiness.
Looking back over 2009 I have to say it's been a difficult year for us in all aspects of farming. It must be said, though, that very little of our challenges can be directly attributed to the current recession.
Yes, our financial woes can be somewhat attributed to a tightening of bank lending controls and to some measures introduced by the two Budgets this past year, not the least of which was the payment of FWMS over three stages.
To my mind, the Budget's have introduced tax payments that those of us in full-time farming will find extremely difficult to fulfil. The abolition of the Fallen Animal Scheme also aggravates the situation for us.
But by far the worst damage inflicted on farming was by the massive reductions in price paid by our co-ops and buyers for product across the board. Our prices, be it for milk, grain or beef, fell through the floor. The beef scenario has been going on for years, but severe hardship was imposed on farmers this past year in both the dairy and grain sectors.
Last year both milk and grain were produced at below-cost levels. Consequently, dairy and tillage farmers suffered severe financial losses -- made all the more galling for dairy farmers by the recent 10c reduction in price given to the supermarkets.
The consumer has seen none of this and has not demanded it, but if the co-ops concerned could afford to drop 10c to the supermarkets then they most certainly could have afforded to have given dairy farmers a fairer price for milk produced. The recent rises in price, while welcome, are still not sufficient, and we finished last year producing milk at below-cost levels. This cannot be maintained.