Industry is bucking the trend

First published in Pembrokeshire Farmer

By Debbie James Confidence isn’t a word used often by economic commentators in these straitened times.

I read yesterday that faith in the economy had fallen to its lowest level since the eve of the 2008 financial crash.

How ironic that farming seems to be bucking the trend. The agriculture industry in Wales experienced some of its worst years when the general economy was booming. Now it’s agriculture’s turn for some better times.

At recent agricultural events I have detected a distinct sense of growing optimism and sure enough a recent survey conducted by NFU Cymru confirmed that confidence in the farming sector is indeed increasing.

More than half of farmers say they will probably expand production in the next five years. After many years of under-investment resulting from poor returns this is heartening news.

Perhaps farmers have been reading the musings of Wall Street investment banker, Jim Rogers. He suggests that if we want to become rich we should become farmers.

Mr Rogers predicts that farming incomes will rise dramatically in the next few decades, faster than those in most other industries. He argues that while we don’t need more bankers we do need farmers.

In the last decade we have seen farmers turning their backs on agriculture, not least in Wales where the number of small, family farms have been forced out by plain economics. When returns are lower the business needs to be bigger to make a living from the land so many have succumbed to the economies of scale.

But farming remains a core industry in Wales and if the conclusions drawn from the NFU Cymru survey are correct, it’s going to get stronger.

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