‘The biggest obstacle is ourselves’

Farmers are used to change, but the current levels of uncertainty and potential change ahead is unprecedented, says Stephen Dennis, South West Regional Lead for the Farming Community Network (FCN). He shares his thoughts on how farmers can increase their capacity to cope with change.

Soaring input costs and uncertainty over future farm support add a layer of complication for farmers making decisions, says Stephen Dennis. “Government really needs to provide some certainty soon.

“With the changes in payments, many must look at whether their business needs to change to accommodate less income. That is a challenge for any business, whether you are doing well or struggling.”

Keep talking

Stephen’s primary advice on how to cope with change is to talk. “Keep communicating with your family or team,” he says. “One of the problems we often see at FCN is families not communicating. They are not working as a team. You need to have an interest in doing what is right for each other.”

Find a trusted advisor

“It is impossible to know every angle and responsibility yourself,” says Stephen. “Farmers need to assess their businesses and find the right advice for their situation. It is so important to get the right advice from the right people.”

Change your mindset

“It is very easy to get stuck in a rut, unable to move on, but change can be positive for ourselves, our families and relationships. The biggest obstacle sometimes is ourselves and our mindset.

“We encourage people to try every year to do something they haven’t done before, whether it’s a sport, hobby or something else.” Other ideas might be to consider helping young people or new entrants joining the industry. “Doing something different opens up our minds to the fact that change can be very positive.”

FCN support

Talking is particularly important if someone feels they are not coping. “Talk to someone you can have confidence in. That might be a family member or friend or not – the FCN is here to talk to as well.

“It’s important to have a sounding board who understands farming.  It helps to show none of your thoughts are in isolation – someone else will have had the same feelings.

“At FCN, we walk people through the questions they have within their current mindset and through the changes to where they need to be.”

 For more information on the FCN and the support it offers farmers and their families, visit https://fcn.org.uk

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Future Farming

Farmers are currently seeing the biggest changes in agriculture for more than 50 years. As a mutual insurer, we’ve stood by South West farmers since 1903 and through our Future Farming Programme, we are helping our Members and the wider farming community navigate the changes ahead in this transformative time.

Future Farming Programme