A cheer goes up when UK farming breaks the wheat yield record. Twice. There is a collective sigh at the news that 60% of farmers made no money from crops in 2014-2015.

Steering through rough times

Where – in between these highs and lows – do farmers get a steadying, practical steer on what and how to do better in the planning, preparing, planting, nurturing and harvesting of their crops?

For a start there needs to be scrutiny of the 40% of businesses that did make money from their crops in 2014 – 2015. They must be doing something different, and better, compared with the loss-making majority. But what? And even within that minority there will be some that are way ahead. What are they up to?

Management matters

Fascinatingly, there are so many points in decision-making and management that make the difference. The list – even leaving aside variety and climate – is a long one: the choice of machine, the timing, the dedication, drive and professionalism of the operator and so on, and so on.
Clearly from the grim news from so many struggling UK farm businesses there are just too many management complexities to tackle. The default is to blame global prices rather than to look within the business for solutions.

Least cost and most do-able

Finding solutions is the main reason why farmers join a benchmarking group. Members of JVFG – the benchmarking group with the very highest level of detail and the least cost farm businesses in Britain as members – get insights and inspiration from each other on what’s least cost and most do-able.
In December, JVFG group members will meet for their next analysis of 2015 performance. JVFG consultant Jamie Gwatkin has lots of productions costs to report.There will be cheers.  And sighs. However with hard evidence to hand of how to get costs of production as low as possible and clear practical steps to take to achieve these important steps there will, for JVFG members, be much to feel good about.