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Rodney Down: Looking into the global food crisis, and hoping to manage production costs

As the long nights are upon us and another year flies past, I generally have too much time to think. 

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We are still being told we need to double food output or thereabouts at a time when we have ample wheat stocks, beef and especially milk.

 

My question is, are we fed these stories just to keep us going?

 

I, for example, am classified as obese, or so the machine at the leisure centre tells me. I am not alone as 30 per cent of the world falls into this category.

 

With 30 per cent of food wasted before it hits the shops and another 30 per cent wasted once it has been bought, surely if I eat less and waste less along with a few others there will be enough for everyone?

 

Even with this apparent glut at the moment, there are still people hungry. We as farmers can react and always have done so in history.

 

Perhaps it is other parts of the supply chain more attention needs to focus on?

 

So bringing my theories back to my farm and what does it mean? Volatility is here to stay, but my business is not the lowest cost producer so I have to manage it even better. This is going to be my promise to myself next year using every tool there is.

 

It is the lows which break a business - failing to hit the highs will not ruin a business, which is good as I have a natural skill of not hitting the highs.

 

Out on the farm, it is the mundane winter routine. Liquid fertiliser tanks and a new calf shed are the projects for this month, meaning it is just as busy as normal. We are right in the full of serving and it is going well thanks to the chalking of cows this year for heat detection -

 

I wish we had done it years ago.

 

These little tweaks have helped offset the decline in dairy fortunes, but I am now running out of ideas with no sign of it slowing down in the downturn.

 

I guess the only way is up for next year. Happy Christmas!

Somerset: Rodney Down farms with wife Claire at Higher Wrantage farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

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