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President's Blog - 10 October 2018

There is no question that we are facing significantly more volatility in our industry than ever before, and these levels of volatility are more extreme. Weather plays a big part on how we manage our businesses and mitigating for that should be a part of our view on how we plan ahead. That very same weather can impact on our market as well and, again, can either add another challenge or an opportunity.

Since the beginning of July our #NFUSHowDoYouPlan campaign has been encouraging farmers, crofters and the wider industry to plan ahead, look at alternatives and collaborate with one another. On reflection I feel it has certainly been a great success. It has gained significantly more traction than a lot of the other projects that have been aired since the rains of 2017 followed by the drought of 2018.

Everyone who interacted, engaged and shared our messages all helped to raise awareness about the process of forward planning and highlighting its importance, no matter what sector you’re in or business you run.

My own business has seen its challenges. As a livestock producer in the west coast of Scotland I know I need to buy straw for my stock for the winter. The arable sector could see this as an opportunity to bale more straw and cover the potential extra fertiliser cost from not having it to incorporate from the sale of that straw. One positive outcome from the campaign has been more people baling their straw rather than chopping, providing the opportunity for producers to benefit from.

These synergies need to be further developed as we go forward with the battle with climate change, which unlike Donald Trump I am beginning to believe in. Cattle could be overwintered on the arable side of Scotland on arable by-products or waste and straw. This would help to add organic matter to our arable farmland which would also enhance soil structure over time. Less damage would be done in the west trying to keep stock in wetter conditions and this would reduce poaching and would help soil structure. These outcomes could result in more productive farmland and more environmental benefits.

I could go on, but I am pleased that new thinking is starting to develop about what we do and how we do it and how we can help one another and ultimately our business of farming and crofting. Remember, this is something we as farmers did for ourselves and we should acknowledge that more of this kind of collaboration and planning can only be good for us.

Author: Andrew McCornick

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About The Author

Andrew McCornick

Andrew, who is married with three sons and a daughter, was born and brought up on a dairy farm in Wigtown. Andrew and wife Janice farm their 230+ ha unit with 160 suckler cows and 600 breeding ewes with a small herd of pedigree Charolais cattle. Andrew's sons farm a nearby tenanted unit which frequently provides replacement breeding stock for Barnbackle. For as long as Andrew can remember, he has been a member of the Union, and got more involved when the consultation for Nithsdale NVZ came out. From there he went onto become vice chairman of the Dumfries branch, and then onto his previous role of Regional Board Chairman for Dumfries and Galloway. He also sat on the LFASS committee. Andrew was elected Vice President in February 2015.

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