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Farmers face tough year

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Farmers face tough year

PREDICTIONS have been made of a hard year ahead for the farming community.

Brian Richardson, chief executive of the H&H Group Plc, believes 2016 will be ‘difficult’.
He said: “Our own business is closely allied to the farming and rural economy and this looks as though it will be another difficult year for farmers, Food price inflation remains low, if non-existent, with good supplies and limited opportunities for export with an expensive pound and an embargo on exports to Russia. We also have an ongoing fight with supermarkets to compete, causing a squeeze on farm gate prices with little concern about the consequence.
“Farming’s been here before but it needs to cover its costs and that’s not always possible at the moment, particularly in the dairy sector.”
He added: “For the medium long term success of farming, we do need to see some improvement to allow for investment.
“That said, farmers are very good at what they do and also think long term, unlike some of their customers, so they will continue to work hard at improving efficiency and being important custodians of the countryside.”
Reflecting on the past 12 months, Mr Richardson said he thinks the economy is still in the same place where it was a year ago and all sectors remain difficult to grow.
He noted consumers and businesses are ‘very aware’ of the financial crash and remain prudent with no real appetite to take risks or increase levels of debt, adding: “I suspect 2016 will be more of the same with a steady economy perhaps with caution as interests rates will start to increase sometime in the near future.”
But, he concluded: “At H&H we go into 2016 with great confidence and the team of 315 staff here will be working hard again to provide first call service to our many customers both old and new, and we look forward to another successful year.”

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