We'll learn after a hard year
Some years live on in the folk memories of generations as a result of some dramatic event that occurred, usually related to some significant political happening, a major national disaster or economic upheaval.
Thus, 1929 is remembered for the Wall Street Crash, 1939 for the beginning of World War Two, 1969 for the first man to walk on the moon and 1989 for the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Perhaps last year deserves to join that league. In the early months the world's financial system almost went into meltdown, then we had one of the worst summers since records began, and finally the worst floods in living memory. It was a year when many systems, both man-made and natural, were severely tested. So from this testing, we should be better prepared for future challenges.
On the farming front, the CSO estimates that average farm incomes fell by 30pc and cattle farmers' income by about 11pc between 2008 and last year.
It is no consolation to know that income per farm worker also declined substantially throughout most EU states, with the largest falls in Hungary (-35.6pc), Luxembourg (-25.1pc), Czech Republic (-24pc), Ireland (-22.3pc), Germany (-21.0pc), Austria (-20.4pc) and France (-19.8pc). Only in the UK (+14.9pc) and Malta (+9.1pc) was there any significant improvement in farm incomes per worker. British farmers have benefited from a reduction in supply and, more particularly, from the fall in the value of sterling both in relation to market prices, and the exchange rate when euro payments are converted into sterling. It may help the case for support that there is a farm-income problem across the EU.
Each farmer should also take stock of how their farm business faired last year.
It may not be a very attractive picture but there are lessons to be learned from getting the figures together as soon as possible and see what improvements can be made by way of enhancing the value of output or reducing the production costs this year. For most, it will be a case of consolidation and survival rather than new investment.