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East Anglia/UK: Farmers ‘optimistic’ in spite of falling crop prices

06:00 31 July 2014

Aerial Shot of combine loading barley into trailer and also from the harvester itself

Aerial Shot of combine loading barley into trailer and also from the harvester itself

©mgphotography2014

The majority of farmers remain optimistic about future growth in spite of falling crop prices, a survey has found.

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The second in a series of agricultural surveys conducted this year by MHA, a UK-wide group of accountancy and business advisory firms, found that 69% of farmers were expecting to see growth in their business, and 51% were planning to increase their acreage.

The MHA Agriculture Insight Survey was first conducted at the Lincolnshire Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Association (LAMMA) in January and re-run at Cereals 2014, which took place at Duxford in Cambridgeshire in June. Collectively the surveys took into account the views of more than 200 farmers nationwide.

Succession planning was a concern which is moving up the agenda for many respondents, the study found.

European Union predictions earlier this month that the European cereal harvest is set to beat the average for the second year running may be part of the reason for the optimism amongst those surveyed, outweighing the impact of recent drops in commodity prices.

However, farmers were feeling the squeeze on their margins, and they complained of a shortage of available land for those looking to expand their businesses.

David Missen, head of the MHA Agriculture Group said the optimism the survey shows was slightly at odds with the recent falls in cereals prices.

“The key figure for farmers is price x yield and we would hope the yield for the 2014 harvest will be exceptionally good,” he said.

“Although the recent falls in the price of both cereals and meat was a key topic of conversation, it is encouraging that there is an underlying optimism as we go into harvest. For those looking for expansion however, the availability of the right land at the right price remains a barrier to expansion as land prices continue to rise while supply remains static.”

Aside from the concern about available land, planning for the future of the business is a worry for many. 17% of those surveyed at Cereals felt that succession planning was a “great concern” and an additional 39% acknowledged that this was of “some concern”.

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