This week, I want to talk about something which has been in the back of my mind for quite some time, even more so since I started farming in my own right and probably since I grew up on a farm where my desire to be like my father and uncle first started.
This thing has always irritated me, often upset me and, odd as it may sound, has probably been one of the main motivators to make me work that extra bit harder to prove people wrong.
This thing is negativity in British farming.
Negativity is a disease, a contagion and everyone who comes into contact with it tends to suffer from the consequences at some point in their life, yet it is pointless and totally unnecessary.
I strongly believe British farming suffers from too much negativity.
Throughout my early life and subsequent farming career, I have received more negative comments than I have compliments or offers of help and advice.
I can only speak for my own experiences, but I often feel many farmers see positivity and change as some sort of threat; that they would sooner see people fail rather than will them to succeed.
Positivity is not a threat and the industry desperately needs to embrace it or it will continue to decline.
A defining moment in my life came when a college friend became paralysed in a terrible accident.
At the time I was rather negative, dismissive, cynical and sceptical, and envious of those who had large family farms to go back to after our studies.
I was carrying a rather large chip on my shoulder.
My friend was going through far worse, in fact through a much darker time than most of us could possibly imagine.
Yet he emerged from all this with a smile on his face and an incredible attitude towards life where he approaches absolutely everything with a positive attitude and an incredible desire not to let anything beat him or get him down.
This too is infectious and it made me realise I should try to be more like him and life would probably work out better and be more fulfilling.
If he can wake up every morning with a smile on his face, then why can’t I?
If British farming wants to succeed, it needs to be more like my friend and adopt a growth mindset not a fixed one.
We need to look for solutions in problems, not problems in solutions.
We need to turn negatives into positives, give neighbours a wave and a smile, ask questions and offer friendly advice, rather than peering over hedges and criticising people in the livestock market.
We need to offer new entrants a leg up instead of a put down and approach life with a can-do attitude.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves as an industry if it really is low prices, competition, bad weather, the disconnect between the public and farmers, volatile markets, declining support payments and so – all of which are very real challenges – that are to blame for our hardships.
We should also ask ourselves just how much of a role our attitudes and mindsets play.
We only have to take a look overseas to see how successful farming can be, despite all of these challenges.
If we collectively adopt the right attitude and mindset and, above all, we are positive and nice to each other, there is no reason why we cannot do the same.
Future Farmers of Yorkshire is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.