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From the editor: Now is the time for us to shape our farming future

It is not often you feel the hands of history perceptibly shifting, but this week may have been one such instance.

It is not often you feel the hands of history perceptibly shifting, but this week may have been one such instance.

 

Theresa May’s historic speech about the nature of our relationship with Europe could lead to the biggest changes to farming since we entered the European Economic Community in 1973.

 

Across the Atlantic, a new form of leader takes over today as Donald Trump enters the White House with a new presidential style and aggressive swagger. It will be fascinating to see what Trump’s leadership means for the trade dynamic between the UK and USA, although he is making positive noises.

 

What both events – the lurch towards hard Brexit and Trump’s inauguration – point towards is a more volatile era for the UK, politically and economically.

 

This week’s Lamma Show was testament to this as prices for machinery were 10-15 per cent up on the year as the slump in the pound started to be felt in farmers’ pockets.

 

Business experts at the event also believed that as we had left the EU, it would expose us more to world markets and the increased volatility they provided.

 

But there is also a feeling of hope, optimism and the sense that now is the time for farmers to shape their own destiny. As the results of our Shape Your Farming Future round-table discussions reveal this week, farmers want to capitalise on the opportunities on offer.

 

After all, many farmers and rural people voted for Brexit in the belief it would allow them to have more control over their futures, and there has been an overriding sense from the discussions I have hosted that we need to break free from a small island mindset and cast our eyes to the world stage.

 

There is no doubt there are challenges ahead and we will need a British agricultural policy which helps the industry, but there are also opportunities to be grasped. And farmers, it seems, are ready to do just that.

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