Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

Farming transition discussion kit

As part of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s ‘Transition to 2030’ research strand, we invited farmers and other agricultural professionals to hold discussions about the future of farming over the kitchen table or down the pub.

This is something you can do too.

Use this discussion kit to facilitate a conversation with friends or colleagues to explore some of the challenges facing farming and the practical things you can do to respond.

Beyond the immediate uncertainty around Brexit day, farmers are bracing for at least a decade of transition, adjusting not only to changes in payments, but also in markets, diets, labour availability, standards, regulation, weather patterns, and technology.

Much attention has focused on the short term. But even 10 years pass fast in an industry planning multi-year rotations, making 25-year investments and planning succession over generations. Decisions made years ago lock down your options today.

As well as making contingencies for trade disruption and testing future payment schemes, policy makers therefore need to plan now to ensure farms have the support and flexibility to develop their core business through a decade of change.

The Commission identified this as a crucial gap. We wanted to hear from farmers and advisors about the changes they see coming, the challenges they face in adjusting to them and ensuring their business can thrive, and what the industry and government can do to help.

We’re still keen to hear from farmers about the challenges they’re facing and the practical solutions that could help. If you want to contribute to the research, please take a photo of your groups answers and send them in to hello@ffcc.co.uk.

Suggestions for how to guide the discussion

It’s your group so feel free to explore the questions how you’d like, but here’s some suggestions for running a good discussion.

  1. If your farm had a check-up today, what three words would the doctor write down? Start with an easy one. Go around the group or split people into pairs to discuss before coming back together as a group.
  2. Looking ahead to 2030, what would excite you most about farming if things go the way you’d like? Get people to write down some thoughts before sharing with the group. Ask for clarity if needed and notice whether it is easy or difficult for the group to discuss the future.
  3. Is there anything that worries you about how the future may pan out for your farm? Get the group to write down their thoughts and go around the group so everyone has a chance to discuss their worries. Write down the top 5 concerns.
  4. When you hear other people talking about how farming needs to change, what sounds least realistic? What are the barriers and challenges currently facing people in your group? Write down the challenges the group discussed.
  5. What practical things will you need to help you get where you really want to be in 10 years’ time? Can you get the group to agree on their top 3 practical things that would help?
Reflections:
  • Did anything surprise you about the conversation you had?
  • Were there any parts of the conversation that were difficult or that people disagreed with?
  • Was it useful?