Standing on the cusp of a new decade, it is always a time of reflection but also a stage when we look forward to a new ‘era’.
It seems to be human nature to believe the next arbitrary block of time will lead to seismic change for individuals, or in farming’s case an entire industry.
But the process of change does not usually come as a big bang, it is a slower process of incremental changes over a period of time which result in something shifting or altering.
Perhaps the 2010s gave us a big bang moment with the EU membership referendum of 2016, but there was no whirlwind of immediate change.
However, the ongoing fallout from the vote of June 2016 will truly start to emerge in the 2020s.
The changing support structure will be the biggest challenge for many farmers, with direct payments on the way out and public money for public goods being the new mantra to which farmers will have to adhere.
With Basic Payments starting to be cut in the early part of the decade, it will force many farmers to carefully assess their finances. Whether stark choices need to be made quickly or whether the process will take longer to unravel will be key, but there is no doubt change is coming.
It is therefore encouraging to see the optimism expressed by young farmers in this week’s edition about their hopes for the future of the industry.
After all, they will take farming forward in the long-term and it is absolutely vital they engage with the current legislative agenda and tune in to the future sources of funding.
There will also need to be a dose of reality and that is where the older generation of farmers can play a positive role, whether it is through mentorship, collaborative working or providing opportunities for them to get a start in the industry.
The next decade will not be shaped by one generation or the other, it will need a united approach to safeguard agriculture’s future hopes and proud heritage.