Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Waiting for the Great Leap Forward....

Went to the Next Generation Conference at Stoneleigh a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those events that I go into “Jack Russell mode” and get very excited...probably too excited to be considered as having “a life”. I expect to hear the “answer” spelt out using short words and simple sentences, using basic numeric scales and a single line graph. I am always disappointed.

The answer wasn’t spelt out at this conference either. But something was different. I noticed a change in me. Since starting my Nuffield Scholarship I have started to see things slightly differently. At the start I felt building a farm business was 90% reliant on the system and the policy that moulds it. After trips to London and Washington with my fellow scholars I came to the obvious conclusion - that the greater part of the answer wasn’t this but someone called Michael Blanche.

This said, though I know more of the answer lies within me than anywhere else - I’m still not sure what it is yet! To misquote TS Eliot: “Between an idea and an action there lies a shadow; this is where the hollow men dwell”. I’m still a hollow man as I have not taken a defining action. I’ve built a flock and I’ve got a quad bike that used to be shiny but my cost base is horrendous and my sheep far, far away.

I keep waiting for the my own Great Leap Forward, where I can secure a system of operation that is viable - currently just the grazing rent is 22% of my output and even fuel alone is a whopping 12%. What I seek is economic sustainability and the chance for growth and cash generation.

The conference actually got better the more days that passed after it finished - and that is not a convoluted criticism using the “time is a healer” angle, but a compliment. What it did was put food on the table of thought. I will have bored you enough by now but I will return to say more about the food and my subsequent indigestion.

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