Opinion: Individuals are nonetheless farming’s best asset

I attended the Oxford Farming Convention final week.

As a Scot, the journey south, after overindulgence with associates at Hogmanay celebrations, will not be splendid, however the alternative to satisfy outdated associates and make new ones is an invigorating begin to the 12 months.

This 12 months, the much-anticipated Oxford Union debate thought-about if people could be required on farms in a era.

See additionally: Opinion – it takes a superb listener to develop into a superb chief

In regards to the creator

Colin Ferguson

Colin Ferguson is a Farmers Weekly columnist and dairy farmer from the Machars Peninsula in south west Scotland. Alongside along with his dad and mom and brother, he milks 450 cows on two models supplying Arla Meals. Colin can be the NFU Scotland regional chair for Dumfries & Galloway and a Scottish Enterprise rural chief.



Undoubtedly, automation has led to nice adjustments on farms.

My grandfather most likely checked out milking parlours within the Nineteen Sixties very like I now take a look at the growth in robotic milking methods.

Expertise has moved on, however the affect is comparable – a decrease labour requirement, bigger farm companies and big effectivity positive aspects, coupled with large capital funding.

Will this development plateau? Our farmed topography fits itself in direction of various methods, with distinctive intricacies between enterprise.

This lends itself to being managed by the ability of the individuals who work the land – extra akin to artists than the managed laboratory situations favoured by automation.

As farm companies chase effectivity positive aspects which can put them on a sustainable footing after direct assist disappears, will probably be crucial to make sure the errors of the post-war mechanisation will not be repeated, and we try to protect the farmed panorama as it’s – or certainly enhance it.

To protect rural areas we should concentrate on preserving individuals on the land, encouraging companies to create employment, and empowering these already there to really feel valued and spotlight the constructive impacts they’re having.


Communities, economies and ecosystems depend on profitable rural companies.

Whereas there was a lot fanfare about rewilding, ought to we not shift the main target to “re-peopling” and worth crucial asset inside our sector?

As we glance in direction of a coverage that prioritises nature-friendly meals manufacturing, we too usually overlook the constructive affect that the people on farms and crofts have on biodiversity, local weather and the meals safety disaster.

As a substitute of searching for less complicated, cheaper and extra short-sighted solutions, we should always put money into long-term multigenerational options.

That is the actual disaster in agriculture and rural areas – a disaster which demonstrates that we don’t worth the individuals and their communities, who’re constantly supporting and innovating to satisfy the ever-changing calls for of customers and the sector.

Policymakers have to commit and worth the talents and expertise of those that perceive the challenges, successes and alternatives inside agriculture – seeing the entire farm image and never specializing in only one facet.

Wellbeing roadshow

On the subject of valuing individuals, I’m delighted that Farmstrong Scotland, a brand new wellbeing organisation that’s trying to emulate a profitable initiative in New Zealand, has launched its new roadshow.

The inspirational speaker is New Zealand dairy farmer Marc Gascoigne, who lived with extreme melancholy and anxiousness for practically 20 years however solely realised when he had a panic assault.

He now makes use of the Farmstrong wellbeing steps to assist him dwell properly to farm properly.

I’m wanting ahead to listening to his story, which so many people will have the ability to relate to with the turbulence we proceed to face in farming.

It may be an actual effort to have a constructive outlook, however we should – and it’s the group of individuals now we have that’s our strongest asset.

In spite of everything, no robotic can exchange the emotional connection we really feel with our land, livestock and other people. That is one thing we should always cherish.