Rodney Down: 'Markets have stabilised and even strengthened'

Rodney Down, In Your Field 2.jpg

Well, the weather has dried up since we voted for Brexit. Markets have stabilised and even strengthened in some cases, and we have all survived, so far at least.


So, while I am still allowed free access to Europe, I jumped on a plane and hired a car to see a friend in Hungary, then drove across to Romania, collected some staff and flew home.


I was sitting on the fence and leaning towards Brexit, but after seeing the amount of money which has been thrown at these eastern European countries, the corruption and mismanagement of funds, not so much in agriculture but more so in ‘rural development’, I am pleased we are leaving.


Their farming, on the other hand, was good. Romania is having a harvest similar to ours last year, barn busting, and the soil quality was something I can only wish for. I will not be buying land there any time soon though as it is nearly impossible for me to do so. If it was easy, I could see their land doubling overnight, thus increasing the wealth of the native farmers.


Back home, the barley harvest has started with poor results. Hybrid barley fared a little better at 8.5 tonnes/hectare (3.44t/acre). Was the extra 1.7 t/ha (0.7t/acre) enough to cover the extra growing costs? And how much value can you put on the enjoyment of a good yielding crop?


It seems like we all blame the dull June but, at the time, no-one was calling the harvest hopes down. In fact, many ‘experts’ I spoke to were predicting another bumper harvest.


Another surprise was Arla holding the milk price. With July milk production heading towards a 10 per cent drop on last year, I thought they would use their balance sheet strength and encourage milk production by upping prices. Instead, my balance sheet gets eroded. We will be short of UK milk this autumn if this carries on.


Happy harvesting everyone.


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